Does a regular diner reach the same conclusion about a restaurant as a food pro, who may get special treatment if recognised?* Lucy Gillmore and olive reader Ruth Jeffrey compare notes on this new modern Scottish restaurant
Looking for new restaurants in Edinburgh? Want to know the best places to eat in Edinburgh? Check out this new, modern Scottish restaurant in Edinburgh.
About Fhior, Edinburgh
In April, Scott Smith (pictured, below) bagged Restaurant of the Year for Norn, his Leith-based eatery, at the Edinburgh Restaurant Awards (check out the best places to eat in Edinburgh here). The next day he quit. His shock departure was announced on social media – in the same breath as news of his new project, Fhior (Gaelic for true or honest), which was going to be “bigger, better and more ambitious”. Opening in early June, with his wife and partner Laura, barely a moment has been wasted.
Much of what you’ll see coming out of the modern Scottish kitchen is sourced from the surrounds, often with a star local attraction on each plate, whether it’s asparagus – which is grown, cut and delivered within an hour – or the beremeal and malted barley bread baked on site every day.
There’s no menu, but don’t be surprised if you see nose-to-tail approaches to kid goat and hogged, fermented and pickled fruit and veg, as well as spankingly fresh Scottish mackerel. And be sure to check out downstairs while you’re there, too, for hipster basement bar, Kin.
Fhior on buzzing Broughton Street is a string of small rooms. Think clean lines, whitewashed or olive walls, pale pine tables: simple Scandi style. At the front, you can relax with pre-dinner drinks and snacks, but we go straight to our table overlooking a shady garden, where they’re going to grow herbs for the kitchen. There’s no rush, it’s our table for the night. And there’s no menu. It will be a surprise. It’s friendly and almost horizontally relaxed – and I don’t think I’m recognised.*
There’s a choice of four or seven courses. We go with four. They offer a wine pairing but I spot a bottle of orange Radikon Jakot – Italian, biodynamic, no sulphur, long skin contact – on the list (£55). I don’t spot that it’s only 50cl, but hey.
The first tiny taster of the food is a pungent, puce venison and sloe gin salami from Leith-based charcuterie company, East Coast Cured, followed by a mini morsel of mackerel in a chilled broth with aromatic sweet cicely leaf and oil for a hint of aniseed – pure, cool silkiness. The warm, freshly baked beremeal bread is Scott Smith’s signature, smeared with home-churned butter and a sprinkling of sea salt (there are plans to sell it out front).
Pan-fried halibut with swiss chard and salt marsh herbs is rich and buttery, grounded by the earthy greens. Next, baby gem lettuce, hogget, pea, goat’s curd – the warm braised lettuce a crunchy foil for the tender, torn lamb, sweet peas and purée offset by a tangy goat’s curd.
Next, imagine the intense flavour of the scrapings from a roast chicken pan, then add toasted barley risotto, lovage emulsion and oyster mushroom.
The white chocolate, beremeal, seaweed dessert was sweet and salty, the chocolate mousse as light as gossamer on a bed of crumbs, with crisp feuilletines and a sprinkling of seaweed – but it was a little cloying and just too sweet.
THE BOTTOM LINE
There’s a more chilled vibe here than Norn –it feels happier in its own skin somehow, which shows in the food. Surprising, inventive Fhior lives up to its own hype.
Total bill for two, excluding service £149
Our punter’s Fhior, Edinburgh restaurant review…
The décor at Fhior is modern yet understated, while the atmosphere has an informal and welcoming vibe. Staff were relaxed but attentive and they carefully checked that all the ingredients would be appropriate for me, being pregnant. Each dish was explained in detail when it arrived and at the end we were given a note of what we’d eaten, which was a thoughtful touch.
The menu is fixed and can be four or seven courses (we opted for the latter). I’m a vegetarian and my husband eats meat, so we appreciated the fact that our dishes were similar enough that we could discuss the flavours, and felt we had a similar tasting experience.
The evening began with whipped cheese wrapped in carrot and rapeseed with a punchy, pickled flavour, and halibut, steamed rainbow chard and salt marsh herbs – the fish flaking into juicy pices. This was followed by a radish, chamomile and lovage broth with a light, earthy flavour for me, and smoked mackerel broth for him.
Charred cauliflower with brown butter emulsion was a welcome contrast to the two lighter dishes. We resisted mopping the plate of another dish of charred baby gem lettuce with pea and goat’s curd with the homemade sourdough as we knew the main course was on its way and couldn’t risk getting too full.
Succulent chicken breast with crispy skin, mushroom, creamy barley and grassy lovage – all subtly flavoured – arrived for my husband, and I had leeks and onions in a cheese sauce. The creamy cheese and smoky onion flavours worked well – however, something with a little more textural variety would have been better for the main.
For dessert, white chocolate with beremeal and seaweed was rich and came with a whey gel, which gave a welcome tanginess. Strawberry parfait with amaranth and nasturtium was a light and refreshing way to end the meal.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The option to have four or seven courses means Fhior can either be a casual affair or an entire evening’s dining experience.