Review: Fhior, Edinburgh

Review: Fhior, Edinburgh

Ever since Scott Smith opened Fhior in 2018 with the express aim of championing Scottish produce, it’s been one of those restaurants which has established a really solid reputation without quite making the step up from Michelin guide to Michelin-starred status. With his astonishingly complex new ten course tasting menu, the Aberdonian is clearly making a determined effort to change that.

His place is classic pared-back chic, all white walls, sandblasted wooden floors and clean lines. It was also pretty full, which is quite an achievement on a midweek evening in June in Edinburgh just now, especially given that the ten course tasting menu comes in at £130, with another £110 for the paired wines (the seven course menu is £105 with £80 for paired wines).

It feels like there are a whole gaggle of new or newish Edinburgh restaurants, such as Lyla, Eorna, Montrose, Eleanore, Avery and Cardinal, who are making a charge for a star. With the scope and price of its new menu, if not its newness, Fhior – which basically means ‘true’ in Gaelic – certainly fits into that category.

We started with two canapes, one a hash brown topped with Japanese radish and kohlrabi, and the other containing trout, crab roe, cucumber, apple, elderflower and a slew of other ingredients. Right from the off, it was clear that each dish was going to be: a) quite small, b) have multiple ingredients, and c) would combine a dizzyingly diverse range of sometimes competing flavours.

Each dish conformed to these strictures. The venison, for instance, came with a sourdough crumb, molasses and a wild salad made up of (I think) seven different ingredients, including purslane and sweet cicely. Trying to work out what was in each bijou dish was like attempting a particularly fiendish sudoku puzzle, but it was impossible not to admire the ambition.

A course of beetroot, shrimp head and sorrel gave way to one of asparagus, sunflower seeds, trout, a potato and miso sauce, and wild garlic. The next was Pittenweem crab, Japanese radish, and a sauce containing brown crab meat, mint, lime zest and chilli. The scallop dish, which came with pine and kohlrabi, was the simplest but arguably most enjoyable of the meal, and preceded intricate dishes built around turbot and duck, both with a veritable catalogue of ingredients.

Now in the descent phase of our flight, we finished with a bijou cheese and onion tart, then a dish of cherry blossom and rowan, before finishing with a lovely concoction featuring strawberry, goats curd and molasses. Mind blown.

As for the wine, we initially decided against the paired wines, but thanks to the gentle coaxing of our Canadian sommelier Phil, changed our minds. I’ve had a couple of meals recently where the obsession with organic wines has undoubtedly impacted the quality and range of the wines, but the paired wines at Fhior were spot on (special shout out to the Juliet Victor pudding wine from Hungary which accompanied the strawberry dish). So, too, was the service from our waitress, who must have spent weeks rehearsing her rendition of the huge number of ingredients our meal contained.

As our meal was winding up, we earwigged on the couple of thirtysomething businessmen on the next door table. They have both travelled extensively, and from the context of their chat were eating on expenses. It was, one said, the best meal he’d had since ‘that incredible place’ in San Francisco, while the other agreed heartily.

It was certainly a technically accomplished meal that viscerally strived for novel flavour profiles and interesting combinations. Even if my personal preference is for something a little simpler and with a more muscular flavour palette, there was no denying that Smith and Fhior are operating at a rarefied level which may bring further recognition. I hope so.

Fhior, 36 Broughton St, Edinburgh Eh1 3SB. 0131 477 5000.


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