Expectations were running high before the doors had even been flung open – would this wine bar, restaurant and bakery rise to the occasion?
Inspired by the buvettes of Paris and the pintxos bars in San Sebastián, Flor is the smaller, more laid-back little sister of Lyle’s. Making its home in a 19th century building and split across two floors, it’s a cosy, bustling, space that fills with chatter, clatter and wonderful smells during its frequent busy periods.
We stopped by for lunch, weaving between the tables and easing ourselves into a teal-blue corner banquette. The cheerful thrum of the market itself seems to seep into Flor – people cluster at their tables, or perch at the bar watching the magic happen as chef’s slice, dice, and perfectly plate. An impressive black cast-iron spiral staircase winds up to another dining room, and the floor-to-ceiling Crittall windows lets in a glow of autumnal light, warming the terracotta hue of bricks that add to the slight industrial feel of the décor.
Flor’s proximity to Borough Market has an exciting impact on the menu, with dishes paying homage to the variety of European ingredients available in London. We started with a trio of scarlet prawns - glaring, unabashedly red, the tender curl of the flesh pulled from their fierce-looking casings. The squeaky sweetness of the seafood was wonderfully pepped with an orange yuzu kosho, lending a gorgeous citrus zing (and the grilled heads are there for sucking – don’t be shy). Burrata oozed at the touch of a knife, as slippery as a politician asked about the effects of Brexit on the economy. Infinity more appealing though, with the peppery crunch of tardivo and walnuts to add extra layers of flavour, all resting in a pool of golden oil.
And then there’s the flatbread. You really need to get some sort of dough-fix while at Flor, and the clam flatbread, with melted Spendwood cheese and a generous helping of garlic caressing the little pops of salty, ocean-bursts of Palourde Clams, was divine.
To finish, you’ll find a selection of sublimely seasonal desserts, since many of them include fruit the team pick themselves from the farm Lyle's use in Sussex. However, it would be remiss not to plump for the brown butter cakes – chewy and almost caramelised on the outside, sticky and gooey in the middle, and completely addictive. They’re the kind of thing your kindly grandma would make you, if she were a master at baking and had spent the best part of her twilight years perfecting these little miracles.
Can’t wait for a table? Got a carb-craving you can’t kick? Stop by for breakfast and grab one of their fresh sourdough loaves - they open at 8am throughout the week. London’s love of brunch can be appeased on Saturdays, when Flor opens from 10am and offers unique dishes such as coddled eggs with trout roe and za’atar and eggy bread with maple and black pudding.
Flor has made good in following the same philosophy as Lyle’s – focusing on quality ingredients and turning them into ingenious flavour combinations. It’s the kind of menu one reads with eyes wide, pulse racing, as you try to decide just which of the tempting dishes to opt for. Luckily, judging by our selection, it seems you can’t go wrong. Flor opened with the intention of being part of the upper crust of the restaurant scene, and it certainly seems to be heading in this direction.
Flor is now open
|What||Flor, London Bridge review|
|Where||Flor, 1 Bedale St, SE1 9AL | MAP|
|Nearest tube||London Bridge (underground)|