Letter from Simon Kelner


Click to follow

This being a Friday, it’s time for my tasting menu of the past week. I use that term advisedly, because, even in times of civil unrest and widespread chaos, a man has to eat.

And a visit to the acclaimed restaurant Roganic – described by i’s food critic Tracey MacLeod as “original, ambitious, artistic and rather bonkers” – offered a welcome respite from destruction and disorder.

I am not saying this is an example of my Blitz spirit, braving the trouble on the streets in order to settle down with a six-course tasting menu, but I called the restaurant – which is in London’s Marylebone district, not thus far a target for looters – to check it was open for business.

They’d had some cancellations, but it was indeed open. In fact, this corner of the capital was eerily quiet. You could have had a game of football in the middle of Oxford Street. And as I surveyed the menu, I must say it did make a change from sitting with one eye on Sky News and the other on Twitter.

I immediately understood what themarvellous Ms MacLeod meant when she said that Roganic was “rather bonkers”. They offer two choices – a sixcourse menu at £55 a head and a 10-course extravaganza weighing in at £80 a pop. Not only that, but there’s not many places where you can find a flowering herb called chenopodium, sea-cured mackerel and onions that have been dehydrated for 36 hours on the menu.

In the end, however, it was all too much, in every respect. I left with the unsettling feeling that my palate was not worthy. And in any case, I had my Sky News to get back to. On that subject, two largely unsung heroes of the week. First up, Mark Stone areporter for Sky. At the height of the riots, and armed only with an iPhone, he bravely captured the authentic voice of a looter, who said he was doing it as an act of revenge for having to pay taxes.

And another plaudit to Sir Hugh Orde, my favourite policeman, who calmly answered the public clamour for water cannon and rubber bullets by explaining that these are tactics used on static, rather than fast-moving, crowds.

And then, of course, there is the magnificently eloquent father of murdered Haroon Jahan. How we need voices of reason – and not knee-jerk anti-liberal responses – at times like this.

Have an uneventful weekend.