Note: Flor has now closed and now operates as a bakery at Spa Terminus
When Flor first opened, it generated a torrent of hype. Hardly surprising, really, given its status as the casual Borough Market sister to Shoreditch’s trailblazing (but now somewhat pricy) Lyle’s. The excitement whirled around like a cyclone, sweeping up bloggers, journos and passing Dorothys in its wake. Then it passed. Then we visited. And guess what? It was buzzy and brilliant, even for us ordinary folk.
Housed in a building that’s narrow but tall – like something canalside in Amsterdam – Flor is small. At street level, you squeeze in from the bustle of Borough Market to a teeny concrete-floored wine bar with a short counter and the slightest sprinkle of seats. If you’re here to eat, head up the winding iron staircase to the first floor. Here, the lofty ceilings are matched by gloriously tall warehouse windows. But the space is also a little utilitarian – more concrete on the floor, exposed bricks that feel a bit ‘new build’, black wipe-clean tables and overbright lighting – yet somehow Flor gets away with it. How? Because every seat on our off-peak visit was taken, generating a hum of loud, lively chatter which, set against a canvas of folksy-cum-indie tunes, made it feel like a fun dinner.
The food is of the modernist small plates school. I admired the kitchen for having the confidence to offer all three of this year’s on-trend cheeses on one small menu: brie-like Baron Bigod paired with honey, burrata teamed with peaches and fennel, and stracciatella – mozzarella’s creamier cousin – elevated by sweet grapes and olive oil. We were dazzled by a portion of anchovy toast, the grilled bread first dotted with morsels of the meaty, salty fish, then draped with folds of cured noir de bigorre (pork fat) and tiny leaves of fragrant marjoram. Then, later: a butter-soft piece of smoked eel laced with grainy grape mustard and flanked by a little bundle of shredded purple cabbage.
Service was charming, the filtered water (sparkling or still) is all free. Flor isn’t radical. Just very, very good.