There’s a distinct lack of fanfare as you approach Aulis down a cobbled Soho side street. Look up and you’ll spot a small sign baring its name, but to many it’s just another anonymous facade. However, for those in the know, it is home to one of London’s most exclusive dining venues.
Simon Rogan opened Aulis in 2017 as a development kitchen for his Marylebone restaurant Roganic (where the editor of this magazine had his “best meal of 2018”). The original Aulis is in the Lake District, itself a feeder kitchen for L’Enclume, the chef’s two-Michelin star, four-time Good Food Guide restaurant of the year winner and one of the most coveted bookings in the UK.
Aulis London mimics its older sibling: a simple space, one wall lined with jars containing fermented and pickled vegetables from Rogan’s farm, the other providing a backdrop for two chefs who stand behind an eight-seater counter where they prepare 12 courses for guests sitting directly opposite.
Every sip and every bite comes with a story to tell
This up-close-and-personal approach isn’t intended to give you a glimpse into the workings of a professional kitchen – it’s about gaining insight into what goes into every single bite on every single plate, unpeeling the layers of each dish to reveal the rigorous rounds of development, tweaking and testing that make Rogan’s food so astonishing. Put simply, it’s the most insightful behind-the-scenes dining experience you’re ever likely to get.
Every sip and every bite comes with a story to tell. Take the sparkling wine that’s served as an aperitif – British, but not just that: it’s from a vineyard close to Southampton, Rogan’s hometown, and it’s made exclusively for his restaurants. Even the pale ale jelly underneath a puck of creamy chicken liver mousse is made from a brew crafted especially for the house.
Other highlights included light-as air Isle of Mull crackers topped with a snowy drift of fresh horseradish; a mushroom custard that delivered a serious hit of umami and truffle, and a perfectly pale Jerusalem artichoke tart glazed with honey and paired with a deep amber Gaillac Ondenc to bring out its sweetness.
Attention to detail was astonishing, with head chef Tommaso Formica delicately placing flakes of gold leaf on the tart with a pair of miniscule tweezers and air of concentration so intense we all held our breath for fear of disturbing him.
There are no such formalities here though, and Formica was happy to chat throughout the meal, at one point riffing on the wonders of rhubarb while pouring dry ice onto a bowl of yoghurt to form sweet, milky nuggets to top the blush-coloured fruit.
Aulis is the most prestigious meal ticket in London right now
When you’re not chatting with the chefs, you can break bread with your fellow diners, whether they’re your friends or strangers on a night of solo and couples’ bookings. There’s even the option to book the whole place for a private sitting where you can link up your phone and set your own soundtrack.
It’s both remarkable and refreshing to experience such breathtaking cooking in a setting so convivial and relaxed, and that’s what makes Aulis the most prestigious meal ticket in London right now.
16a St Anne’s Court, W1F 0BF; aulis.london