When you’re an ever-expanding restaurant reviewer, you’ve got to shoehorn in as many exercise classes as you can.
This place was lucky enough to get me after a hot yoga session.
I struggled across Broughton Street with sweaty lanks of hair sticking to my face, feet sloshing in their boots, and cheeks as red as Pennywise’s balloon. Happy Halloween.
Do they still say that men sweat and women glow? Well, I put paid to that myth once and for all. And, no, there was no time for a shower.
So, sorry Fhior – owned by head chef Scott Smith, the founder of the now defunct Norn, and his wife, Laura – you’ll have to take me as you find me.
I had spots in front of my eyes, but a not-usually-recommended-post-exercise negroni (£9), which came with a coil of Tamworth ham, sorted that out.
You can choose a set four courses for £40, or seven for £65. Due to a recent expenses cap, we plumped for the first, economy class option, and lived vicariously through everyone else in the restaurant, who all seemed to be going for the full septet.
There’s a twist here, in that you don’t get to see the printed menu before the meal. Instead, you’re personally introduced to each dish, so it’s sort of like being escorted to a debutante’s ball, rather than ordering a husband by mail order.
The amuse bouche – a cloud of Isle of Mull Cheddar foam, with a bindi of mushroom gel on the top and a sprinkling of Panko crumb across the bubbles – completely restored my electrolyte levels. And there were slices of some peat-coloured beremeal bread, with their homemade butter.
Next was the fish dish – two cubes of monkfish in a cloudy chicken broth, topped with nasturtium capers for a vinegary and peppery pop, as well as cross sections of pale cauliflower, like ivory netsuke.
It turns out that Fhior CAN make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Not that I want to be disparaging about cabbage. Still, I wouldn’t think of it as being particularly exciting, or indulgent, until this alchemic act.
This head of hispi cabbage had been lacto-fermented with buttermilk, so it’s easy to digest, said our waiter. Still sound a bit revolting? Add a thick layer of truffle and grated pecorino, with a piquant yogurt dressing and a silky onion puree. There, a full cygnet-to-swan transformation of something plain into something very special, and I’m sure your biome will thank you too.
It was back to the meat with our next course – a partridge breast, which came with a riff on sweetcorn including a bit of toasted cob, crunchy buff-coloured roasted kernels and a puree. There were also some pickled elderberries, like a rosary’s worth of black beads, to lift the general sweetness, and a fancy take on skirlie.
If we’d been on the seven courses, we would’ve only been half-way along.
As consolation, we accidentally said yes to sharing an optional cheese (£10) pit stop, which is offered before dessert, and consisted of a isosceles of Mull Cheddar, a wedge of Hebridean Blue, sheets of melba toast and some coral-coloured rowanberry jelly.
All good things must come to an end, and our pudding of “wild plum, chocolate and sweet cicely” was a way to go out on a high, with high energy and purpose. If it was a yoga move, it’d be some kind of crazy sirsasana headstand, performed by the class show-off.
There was a crescent of pretty things, including a zingy sweet cicely gel and a pale green sherbert, sugary tuiles, blobs of ganache and, generally, more layers of loveliness than a Kardashian’s wedding cake.
Afterwards, you’re given the menu to take away, in an envelope like a love letter, so you can moon over it on the bus.
We looked at the three courses that we could have had: “mussel, turnip, sea aster”, “chanterelle, beef, hazelnut” and “meadowsweet, rhubarb, white chocolate”.
Next time, definitely, we’re down for the lot. This place is hotter than a 32C bikram yoga sesh in salopettes, but without the sweat.