Simon Rogan launches Aulis London, the capital’s smallest restaurant

Words by
Charlotte McManus

30th November 2017

Combining experimental gastronomy with a slick yet intimate space, the British Michelin-star chef’s latest venture is causing a stir on London’s cuisine scene

Introducing a truly exciting eatery to the heart of central London, Aulis London is a must for those who want to try something a little different when dining. Named in homage to Aulis Lehtimaki – the Finnish chef and artist who worked closely with Simon Rogan in the early days of the two-Michelin star L’Enclume – Aulis London features only eight seats, making it the most bijou restaurant in the city.

By day, the space operates as a culinary workshop for Rogan and his team of chefs as they experiment with innovative dishes for Rogan’s other new restaurant, Roganic – a permanent venue for his cult 2011-2013 pop-up eatery of the same name – which is due to open on Blandford Street, Marylebone next month. Then, when night falls, Aulis London opens its doors to (very) select groups of diners, where they can try out the new culinary creations as they are prepared before their eyes at the table. Guests are encouraged to arrive with an open mind, as each evening’s multi-course tasting menu will have been made on the day, complete with wine pairings from sommelier Pierre Brunelli. The kitchen is helmed by head chef Rafael Cagali, previously of Fat Duck and Fera at Claridge’s.

On the eve of the preview dinner, I make my way to Aulis London with no small degree of anticipation. Tucked away in a tiny space just off Wardour Street, the plain-fronted restaurant is a pleasingly anonymous escape from the hustle and bustle of Soho. The eight of us gather at the rectangular table on one side, facing the chefs as they cook, taste and arrange on the tiny built-in stove and preparation space, happy to chat. Though the restaurant’s design is stripped-back and coolly contemporary, the mood is decidedly warm and relaxed, complete with a somewhat unexpected but nonetheless fun playlist of cheesy 80’s hits.

Dishes are ingeniously crafted – and exquisitely presented – with few ingredients that pack plenty of punch. Our 15-course dinner kicked off with a delicate confection of raspberry and goat’s curd and rose, followed by a wonderful ceramic pot of creamy seaweed custard and caviar. The hay baked celeriac had us all in raptures (something I honestly never thought I’d say about celeriac), whilst the monkfish made a perfect accompainiment to Jersusalem artichoke and leek. Meat-lovers should note that the menu is heavily plant and fish-based, though the single meat course – duck – was perfectly cooked. Dessert ends on a light note with burnt milk, yoghurt and elderberry, followed by coffee strong enough to knock your socks off.

While Roganic is sure to wow once open, there’s something rather special in going behind the scenes at Aulis London and witnessing the creative process from the start. Well worth the trip.

The Aulis London experience is priced at £250, and includes a tasting dinner menu with wine pairing. For more details, visit aulis.london.