What: A bakery, restaurant and wine bar in Borough Market that takes its name from the thin layer of yeast that naturally forms on some wines. Inspired by the buvettes of Paris and the pintxos bars of San Sebastián, Flor serves up “produce and provenance-led dishes” with a focus on sourdough bread and viennoiserie alongside a largely natural wine list.
Who: Flor is James Lowe and John Ogier’s hotly-anticipated follow up to their Shoreditch restaurant Lyle’s, which launched in 2014 and is now one of the capital’s most highly-rated and respected restaurants (its numerous accolades include ranking 17 on Restaurant magazine’s list of the top 100 restaurants in the UK, number 33 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and a Michelin star). The pair are backed by JKS Restaurants, which has funded a number of other high profile London restaurants including Kitchen Table and Sabor.
The vibe: The tightly proportioned space has a casual feel with bare brick and concrete walls, floor-to-ceiling Crittal steel windows and a striking cast iron spiral stair case. It’s not an ideal setup operationally speaking - the ground floor open kitchen is tiny, the single upstairs loo is basically a box that sits on a mezzanine floor above the dining room, and the wine has had to stored on difficult-to-access racks - but you can see why the pair fell in love with it. Overseen by Ogier, the service is laid back but highly professional.
The food: Lowe’s cooking at Lyle’s is considered yet simple, often frustratingly so for diners that go in with pre-conceived notions about what Michelin-starred dining should be like. The menu at Flor feels more relaxed but is still based on very high quality seasonal mainly British produce. Lowe originally hoped for the site’s basement bakery to also function as a prep kitchen but this was not to be - his bakers wanted all the space to themselves - so the menu has had to be simplified. Lowe says the operational constraints have been a plus, resulting in a smaller and more focused menu that can be executed quickly and efficiently. The single page of A5 features a little over a dozen simple dishes that let the quality of the ingredients do the talking, including palourde clam flatbread, Spenwood, vin jaune and new season garlic; lamb rib, yoghurt, black lime and pistachios; and a gratin of cod brandade topped with peppers. But the stand out and most heavily Instagram'd dish to hit the menu so far is Flor’s scarlet prawns with sea buckthorn kosho (the bodies arrive raw and the heads arrive grilled). Flor looks likely to be equally famous for its morning-focused bakery items, which include Mangalitsa pork fat buns and croissants.
Lamb rib, yoghurt, black lime and pistachios
And another thing: Restaurateurs used to working at a high-level often struggle with more accessible concepts, but Lowe and Ogier have nailed it with this tightly run buzzy little restaurant that’s in step with its bustling market locale. Prices are affordable with all but the most premium lunchtime and evening small plates priced around the £10 mark. Although it’s tricky to book a table at the moment, a high proportion of the space is available for walk-ins, which further boosts Flor’s egalitarian credentials.