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REVIEW: Rogan & Company | Cartmel

Gordo on great food and unscrupulous locals

Written by . Published on March 6th 2015.

REVIEW: Rogan & Company | Cartmel

CARTMEL, even on a cold and wet day in February, is a very pretty place. Twee, is the best word for it. It’s an eighteenth century Cumbrian village riddled with cars, Labradors and wellington boots.

The salad is one of three in 40 years for this writer that hit a perfect score. The ubiquitous kale lifting the piece into the stratosphere. 

Even the public loos are twee. After Gordo had visited what must be the best smelling public bogs in Britain (Parklife this ain’t), he turned to wash his hands and saw a nice little wooden box on the wall holding ‘Milk & Fig Family Handwash’.

Kinda sets the stall out for the place, that stuff.

Outside the best smelling loos in Britain was a duck ready to greet Gordo, being from Salford, Gordo is more used to a pit bull terrier.

On a Saturday, it’s also very busy with weekend visitors, all being rinsed by the locals for what, in the main, is utter tat, along with some very good food. 

Gordo, being a salesman, was probably the easiest of the lot to part from his dosh.

Not A Pit BullNot A Pit Bull

Shifty's BookshopShifty's Bookshop

He walked into the antiquarian bookseller, The Gatehouse Bookshop, established in 1933 by all accounts. The present gaffer, Henry, was eyeing up Gordo trying to figure out what he had on his hands. Money, or timewaster? He was, at the same time, haggling over an early Famous Five book, probably worth 50p, but was allowing the punter to knock a quid off the £20 price tag, for cash.

Gordo picked out four. Including an early edition of T.E Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom and Oscar Wilde’s Salomé. Yes, Gordo knows he can be a ponce at times. 

Anyway, Gordo puts the chosen books down on the counter. Henry, of indeterminate middle age, dressed in expensive wool-shabby (a look Northern Quarter hipsters would die for) does his sums on a Texet circa 1983 calculator.

“Well, that comes to £117 sir. Shall we call it £110?” 

By now, Gordo was feeling a bit light-headed from claustrophobia and dust mites and wanted out. He takes a debit card out. 

“Oh, I’m so sorry sir,” says Cartmel’s shiftiest, “I only accept cash or cheque.” 

“Fucking cheques?” thinks Gordo, wondering if he had stepped through a wormhole back into 1993.

Quick as a flash, Shifty Henry, concerned that he's losing a sale, blurts out that he can walk Gordo round the corner to his pal, who runs a tat shop and has one of those new-fangled devices, a card machine. 

“Charge the card for £115 please Jeremy,” says Shifty. Gordo chokes. “I thought we said £110?" 

“That was when I thought you were paying cash,” replies Shifty, with a straight face. “We have to give Jeremy here a tickle for doing the transaction.” 

Gordo’s had easier negotiations with whores in Marseille. He’d managed to get £2 knocked off the original price.

Gordo spots Henry locking up the chief rinsing station five minutes later. Then, with a speed belying his years, disappears into the pub next door. 

He’s had a result. 

The GaffRogan and Company

Rogan and Company is the second restaurant owned by Simon Rogan, of L’Enclume (and The French at The Midland) - the multi-award winning, two Michelin starred restaurant which put this sleepy village on the map in recent years. 

The restaurant is in a converted cottage a hundred metres or so from the square. It’s sweet on the outside. On the inside, however, it’s all very serious with an understated Viking chic. At first glance, you're walking into an upmarket caf, then you start noting detail; a log fire over there, solid tables, well polished, very expensive heavy pottery table lamps. The chairs are comfy, the light is just right. Every now and again the chef shouts ‘service’, or the equivalent thereof, but not too loudly. 

It’s full of the Jamie Oliver generation. Even a couple of Confidential readers, who said hello. Service is by young women who carry trademark Rogan attributes; they are pleasant, professional and knowledgeable.

The menu is postmodern British, with a touch of North Africa thrown in. First up was popcorn, spiced. Enjoyable, but leave alone if you are buying serious wine. Then a rissole-like crispy fried golf ball with quince jelly on the side. Terrific. Free. 

Pigs Head And PopcornPig's Head And Popcorn

Ham And Jerusalem ArtichokeHam And Jerusalem Artichoke

Two starters for porky; dill marinated salmon on buckwheat blini with sea herbs and beetroot sabayon (£10.00, main image) first. Assembled in a masterful way, the sabayon singing of its main flavour. The blini could have been two and the salmon sliced rather than cubed (finicky that last bit, but there is a reason why we serve roast beef sliced and not in cubes). Still, a bloody lovely dish, with the right flavour in the right place with the right ratios.

Iberico ham, Jerusalem artichoke pana cotta, rocket dressing and fig (£16) was, as all the dishes here, laid out on the plate in such a way as to remind us that this place isn’t just about the cooking. It’s artistry of the highest order; a scatter of colour, texture and flavour that is, in fact, anything but a scatter. Good ham, but married to Jerusalem artichoke in three ways, a smooth creamy panna cotta, tiny crisps, and pickled diced all came together well. Dabble with the fig jam and pureed dollops of rocket and you have a starter that, even at £16, is great value.

Cod Romesco SauceCod Romesco Sauce

Smoked MashSmoked Mash

The main of cod loin with mussels, romesco sauce, rissole potatoes and grilled purple sprouting broccoli (£19.50) didn’t do it for Gordo. The sauce, expertly put together, following the Catalan recipe closely, overwhelmed everything else. Lovely cod mind you. The grilled broccoli didn’t shine. 

What did shine were the sides of smoked mash potato (£3.50) and salad of vegetables and leaves (£3.50) from Rogan’s own farm. The salad is one of three in 40 years for this writer that hit a perfect score. The ubiquitous kale lifting the piece into the stratosphere. 

Apple PieApple Pie

Finally a fried apple pie, butterscotch and Cornish clotted cream (£7) was nicely nursery; the apple filling could have been a little less baby food.

The wine list is small but well chosen. Gordo was driving, so only had a small glass of Albarino Rias Baixas at £7 quid or so; a little pricey. Next time Gordo will be doing cheese with a glass of Taylor’s ’85, good value at £10. 

Service, as mentioned, is classy. Brooke, a local girl, deserves a mention, as does everyone else as it happens.

Certainly worth the trip, but best stick to Amazon, eh.

Follow @GordoManchester on twitter.

All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship.

Rogan & Co, Devonshire Square, Cartmel, Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria LA11 6QD. 015395 35917

Rating: 16/20

Food: 7.5/10 (popcorn 6, pigs head 8, salmon blinis 7.5, Iberico ham 9, cod loin 6, smoked mash 7, green salad 10, fried apple pie 7)

Service: 4/5

Ambience: 4.5/5

Gordo Recommends: ingredients, flavours and a good day out with older members of the family. 

Watch out for: Middle-class pickpockets. To paraphrase Anthony H Wilson, they do things differently in Cartmel.

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing, 14-15 worth a trip, 16-17 very good, 18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away

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Richard KiddMarch 5th 2015.

Sticky toffee fingered booksellers in Cartmel, eh? Still, good pubs there as well as L'Enclume, and this sounds great too. No idea how to smoke mash but I want to try it after reading this.

Burt CodeineMarch 5th 2015.

Possibly cold smoke the butter beforehand (approx 4 hours)?

RichardMarch 5th 2015.

Try the Cavendish. Great food ,roaring fires, and no foam!

Gordo, Irritated.March 8th 2015.

My apologies to my readers. This was subbed poorly, and missed two important pictures as well; the soap holder and the very carefully framed picture of the only 10/10 dish on the day, the green salad. I'm going to tweet them for you so they don't go to waste. I am sure there were no similar problems with the Poots Interview. "who he", i hear you say. Quite.

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