Towering food and wine that are affordable to the broader public? The food and wine at Edinburgh’s Fhior are ethical, sustainable, the latter coming unmediated from craft producers.
The ethos of Scott Smith, Fhiorâ€™s proprietor and head chef, is to use what is available, so the menu is different each week. Thus, seducing an array of repeated guests.
Claireâ€™s soft drink lands, Roots, handmade in Edinburgh, entitled, I Need My Girl â€“ all-natural rose, beetroot, pink grapefruit soda.
Our initial amuse-bouche is venison carpaccio, stout, pops in your mouth. Wafer-thin. Not salty. Delectable. There are beef tendon crackers, with mussel and dill. Creaminess, good fat content, subtle â€“ dill hits home. The second bite delivers. There’s a radicchio parcel, sweet and sour, tasty filling, sourness, complete contrast to the mussel. Claire says they’re quite intense flavours, my supertaster. There’s doughnut â€“ topped with Crowdie and caviar, which isn’t bitter â€“ winning combination.
We’ve opted for four courses for Â£40. Claire says I should have dressed up.
Our next amuse bouche consists of trout belly, fermented tomato compote, lovage oil and half a dill cracker, which is still crispy. I come back to my table from the loo, and my napkin has been folded into a perfect triangle, lovely. Nico is singing.
Our bread is beremeal, heritage grain, rare, from the North of England, which is an ancient form of barley.Â Homemade cultured butter, sourness, and natural rapeseed oil. All understated yet homely in the chic surroundings. Our food so far has been like sliding into a warmed bed with satin sheets on a cold night.
Our first course is grey sole, gently baked to retain the flavour, fermented turnip, and a few sprigs of pepper dulse, a seaweed known as the truffle of the sea. Roast sole bones create the stock, and there’s a butter emulsion. I want this every night.
The second course is roasted East Lothian heritage carrot, caramelised and steamed in its skin, parsley emulsion, Crowdie, chestnuts warmed in brown butter and chervil. It’s clear that Fhior is redefining the exquisite dining landscape in Scotland, this is next level cuisine. They convey complex ideas simply.
Next, roasted lamb loin, sweetbreads, cabbage braised in seaweed, fried cabbage with dried scallop roe seasoning and lamb jus. This dish has an Asian, almost Japanese twist to it, must be the umami. Thereâ€™s a dialogue between the different forms, and I’m writing down words like vision, beauty, poetry. The sweetbreads are decadent, the dish, sublime.Â â€˜I enjoyed that,â€™ says Claire.
Finally, treacle pudding and caramelised apple, sorbet, toffee sauce. The motifs of the evening melt into an ocean of satisfaction. Practice, refinement, self-reflective learning, an establishment striving for perfection. Petit foursâ€¦and weâ€™re blown away.
Fhior: the pursuit of the divine through the culinary arts. Number one in my book.
Â£80 for two four-course tasting menus.
Photo credit: Claire Nowbaveh