James Lowe’s follow-up to Lyle’s takes its cues from the buvettes of Paris and the pintxos bars of San Sebastián
Flor takes its name from the thin layer of yeast that naturally forms atop some wines and serves up “produce and provenance-led dishes” alongside a suitably-funky natural wine list. The tightly proportioned Borough Market restaurant is James Lowe’s follow up to Lyle’s, a regular on the top end of this list (it’s also made it onto the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list).
Prices are notably accessibly given the pedigree of the team and the high calibre of ingredients used, with most small plates around the £10 mark and larger dishes priced at £20 or under. While Lyle’s focuses on British ingredients, Flor casts its net a little wider, securing high quality produce from Europe and even a few items from Asia.
Such an approach results in a line-up of eclectic, casually creative dishes that includes crisps, anchovies, nori; raw beef with mussel, migas; and lamb sweetbreads, komatsuna (Japanese mustard leaf). The name is also a reference to baked goods, with the kitchen making its own bread and viennoiserie, which is available to both eat in and takeaway.
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 to be stored on difficult-to-access high racks – but you can see why Lowe fell in love with it.
And London has now fallen in love with this idiosyncratic gem, too. The only fly in the ointment? The extreme difficulty of bagging a table, although true to the source material – Flor was inspired by French buvettes and Spanish pintxos bars – some space is left open for walk-ins.