Another visit to Hypha, and another chance to tell you all how amazing it is.
Some things have changed since they came back after lockdown. Firstly, George has arrived. I have known George Dermott for many years, his mum and I are friends and I bet she’s pretty proud of the charming young man he has become. And now sustainable food expert!
Nick now has a co-pilot, and seeing the pair of them in action together is pretty awesome. Two very knowledgeable guys, super-passionate about food and delivering an amazing dining experience in a gorgeous local, independent restaurant, which is also Michelin recommended btw.
Now that’s pretty special don’t you think?
Another thing that’s changed is that they are now serving a Tasting Menu, which has replaced the small plates concept from the olden days (pre-lockdown). Phil and I were invited to dinner last week, and there is no easier way to say this – it was epic.
They also now have their very own fermentation lab called Koji next door. Koji is a culture of A.oryzae that is grown on and within steamed rice grains and accumulates various enzymes and substances useful for sake brewing – so now you know (thank you google).
We started with a Trio of Fermentation. Three little spoons on a plate which pack a huge flavour punch;
Barley twile, Flageolet bean purée and lacto fermented oyster mushrooms – which are grown and fermented next door in Koji.
Lacto fermented courgette rolled in poppy seeds with pickled celery and carrot top for garnish.
Lacto fermented tomato pearls with tomato leather made from a spicy tomato stock.
Now its important to introduce Alice at this point. Alice grows lovely things over in Malpas and her business is called Veg and Petals. Alice supplies so much of the fabulous produce used in this tasting menu which she lovingly produces without the use of chemicals. Look her up on Facebook as she has big plans for 2021 – and I’ll be bringing you more about Alice as we head into the Spring next year.
The next course was hypha sourdough, which tasted so good. The sourdough is (of course) made in-house, a mixture of malted and stone ground flour sourced locally from a mill just down the road in Waverton. Its served with a delicious miso merin, whipped with potato starch and sweetened rice wine to give it fluffiness, and garnished with local Shrewsbury rape seed oil. We loved it.
Next up was Minestrone (disguised as Ramen). Flageolet beans, alkaline grande orzo pasta (made in-house) with tomato garum – which in turn is made from last season’s broth (its perpetual) providing flavour profiles which can’t be created overnight. It was indeed delicious.
Now it was time for Maitake Al Ajillo – a pretty large meaty mushroom roasted on common sorrel vinegar leaf with truffle mushroom espuma, charged to give its fluffiness and apricot purée with crispy sea kelp. It was divine, definitely my favourite dish.
Something really beautiful to look at next – Autumn 2020, Beetroot on Canvas. This stunning dish tasted as good as it looked. Described as a Heritage Root to Leaf Exhibition, this was a flavour explosion all on its own. Red and golden beetroot (red is savoury and golden is tarte and citric) on a bed of pearl barley dressed with chives, finely chopped parsley, candied beetroot and candied lemon verbena (provided by Alice). It was excellent.
Next was the pre-dessert of Cucumber Grenita. Lacto fermented oyster mushroom, dipped in tempered chocolate and kombucha reduction (like a sticky, glossy vegan honey). There was a surprise in the chocolate – ‘red waste’, and this is where the sustainability element becomes interesting. Red Waste is made with waste pulp from another kitchen, so instead of throwing it away, Hypha take it and mix it with beetroot, pineapple, ginger, lemon and strawberry – and set it in the middle of the chocolate. This dish was as unusual as it was delicious, not what I was expecting – but then you don’t go to Hypha for anything ‘expected’ I’m guessing.
Dessert was just as good. Frangipane & Plum – ground almonds, plum jellies inside frangipane, poached peaches, candied almonds, plum gel with stone fruit sorbet and kombucha reduction with roasted juices.
We had a lovely bottle of organic red burgundy which complemented every course so well, and Nick and George made the evening even more special.
This is such a special restaurant, I honestly feel we are so lucky to have Hypha here in the city – it takes us to another level as they have definitely raised the food bar here.
Thanks guys, you really do make Chester an even better place to be.