After three years of COVID-interrupted negotiations and planning, chef Simon Rogan’s three-star restaurant L’Enclume, from the UK, will open at Bathers’ Pavilion for five weeks from July 19. It’s the largest restaurant residency in Australia since Noma set up shop in Sydney in 2016.
Rogan and about a dozen of his team members will relocate to Australia from Cartmel in Cumbria, on the border of the Lake District, for what is more of a takeover than a pop-up.
“They’re not phoning it in; Simon is bringing the A-team out,” says Bathers’ head chef Cameron Johnston, who will travel in April to the UK restaurant with other senior staff to immerse themselves in the famed L’Enclume culture.
“Our front of house will be shadowing their service. It’s all in,” Bathers’ co-owner Jessica Shirvington says. “We’re making crockery (for the residency) in Australia.”
The restaurateur says they first flew over to meet the L’Enclume team in December 2019. Then COVID happened.
The upside of the delay is L’Enclume’s continued ascent in the past three years. If it had happened, as planned, in 2020, Sydney would have had a taste of a two Michelin star restaurant.
Last year it picked up its coveted third star, making the restaurant – which punches out dishes such as fritters of pig and smoked eel, and the signature “Anvil” dessert of caramel mousse with spruce, miso and apple – the only restaurant at that rarefied level in the north of England.
Rogan, an unabashed fan of Sydney’s Quay restaurant and Victorian eateries including Brae and Attica, told Good Food he’s always “had the ambition to do something in Australia” and has already tapped his network for advice on produce.
“I’m good friends with Clare Smyth and I’ve been talking to her about it. Oncore has been a massive success in Sydney,” he says.
“Obviously the fish and shellfish are very different to what we have, so I’m excited to use the produce I experienced on my last visit – mud crab, freshwater marron, etc. I did a pop-up at Yan in Singapore, and a lot of the vegetables came from Australia, and they were superb quality, so again, I’m looking forward to using those.
“When we go anywhere, we immerse ourselves in the locality, and really try to connect to the area through our food. Sustainability is a big part of our ethos, and in the Lake District we grow as much of our ingredients as possible on our very own farm.”
With a small stable of restaurants spanning London and Hong Kong, Rogan is able to pluck senior talent from different parts of his empire for the Sydney gig.
“This is definitely a major event for us given that the L’Enclume residency at Bathers’ Pavilion runs for five weeks. Luckily, we have a large team of amazing chefs we are able to call upon and we will have a number coming from Cartmel, London and Hong Kong to make up the brigade,” he says.
And the price? At $420 (eight courses), it’s a sizeable investment for diners, but cheaper than the degustation menu at the Cumbrian original.
Bookings will open at 10am on February 14, via phone and the Bathers website.
Open lunch Tue-Sun, dinner Tue-Sat from July 19 to August 20. Private dining room available for a group of 12-15 diners at each sitting.
4 The Esplanade, Mosman, 02 9969 5050, batherspavilion.com.au