REVIEW: Wild Flor, Hove

by - September 25, 2020

Wild Flor, modestly pitched as a neighbourhood restaurant, is an unquestionably classy little joint. The bistro-inspired interior is stripped back with just enough elegant touches and wine is given as much status as the food.

And rejoice; this really is a restaurant for people who enjoy eating. You're not left picking at curious chef-foraged garnish, components are not 10cm apart on the plate - instead the big flavoured dishes here draw you in like a hug. 

Ingredients are used at their seasonal peak, so much so that by the time you read this, the chalkboard menu will have undoubtedly changed, but the style and tone of the classic dishes are consistent.

Simple dishes like unassuming pea and goat cheese toasts are sophisticated and surprising and sweetcorn soup was given a perfect partner in a salty and spicy nduja focaccia.

Salt cod rings alarm bells for me, the ghosts of putrid baccala past haunting me from my childhood, but here, as the classic dish brandade; soft, silky and creamy with olive oil and potatoes given a summery makeover with ripe tomatoes and fragrant herbs. I'm a convert. 

Roast chicken leg, is again, a humble dish elevated to something more with seasonal runner beans, a rich chicken broth and a brightening aioli. This is true comfort food, and I'm totally here for it. 

Lighter was the dish of pink trout, cooked within seconds of perfect, a balance of fresh cucumber and earthy notes from horseradish to complement this fish.

Never miss the potato dishes here though. Mark II of the crispy beef fat potatoes that were a rave from their launch, the Pommes Anna are even better, more refined and a gorgeous side dish to anything. Don't kid yourself that you'll share. 

One thing I've noticed here is that desserts are very grown up and tend to be herbal and fruit based rather than sticky and sweet kind - a good thing in my book. The gooseberry fool leant toward savoury, with the unmistakable tartness of gooseberries. A small rice pudding with jammy figs and fig leaf oil was equally as good, and would be perfect with a dessert wine. 

Service is something that deserves a mention. Effortless and casual, yet finely tuned and exactly on brand for the food in terms of knowledge to help diners navigate the menu and wines.

From their opening in 2018, Wild Flor were an instant hit, landing them a well-deserved number 3 spot in the local restaurant awards and gaining national coverage where Brighton sometimes gets overlooked. Founders Robert Maynard, Faye Hudson and James Thomson have all come from the front line of the best hospitality in Brighton. They know their onions as well as their patch and have created a place that this city seemed to have needed.

New to the team however is head chef Chris Trundle who joins them from Michelin-starred Manfred’s in Copenhagen and Lyle’s in Shoreditch, along with sous chef Laurence Kinghorn-East who began his career at acclaimed Gingerman Group in Brighton before taking positions at the Michelin-starred kitchens of Matt Gillanat The Pass and with Merlin Labron-Johnson at Portland in London and latterly at Osipin Bruton, Somerset.

The kitchen changes haven't altered the strong ethos and style of Wild Flor, but seems to have pushed them that little bit further forward. Dishes appear more polished and refined and I have a hunch that this will evolve further.

42 Church Road 
Hove BN3 2FN

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