REVIEWED: Sustainable restaurant hypha achieves Michelin star greatness
Jessica Ward | 8th September 2020
Nestled in the historic city walls of Chester, lies new concept restaurant h y p h a. Featuring its very own fermentation lab and workspace, producing arguably the best sourdough in the country, amongst a variety of treats, this restaurant is unlike any other.
Taking plant-based to a whole new level, it aims to have a zero waste kitchen policy, using every stalk and stem in the most innovative ways and creating a food lovers paradise in the process.
I was a little dubious about my visit at first. The words vegan, plant-based and fermentation did not initially get my taste buds tingling and I’ll be honest – I mapped out the nearest Mcdonald’s for the journey home, just in case.
We arrived on their opening night. Throughout lockdown the h y p h a team used their downtime to create a brand-new menu offering, by way of a seasonal set menu. This 7-course tasting menu comes in at a very reasonable £45 per person. A real bargain once you begin to understand exactly how much care and attention has gone into each individual dish.
Every hero ingredient used in the restaurant has been grown within a 10-mile radius of Chester, making the word local too broad of a term to use. Even the mushrooms have been grown on site.
Our dining experience began with an Amuse Bouche. A trio of fermentation, beautifully plated, showcasing the amount of care that goes into every mouthful. We then moved on to the homemade sourdough. Freshly baked and crisp on the outside and warm and fluffy on the inside, the sourdough is served with a splash of rapeseed oil and a warm whipped miso paste. I could have happily eaten the entire loaf.
At this point, my previous hesitations of the evening were beginning to fade away as we were served the “minestrone disguised as ramen” an interesting Italian/Japanese fusion. The h y p h a team took their inspiration from the pages of history as they used a Roman technique of fermented tomato as the base of this dish to really pull out the flavours.
The next course focused on ingredients that can be foraged in the local area. Featuring their home-grown mushrooms, edible moss, vinegar leaf and an apricot puree for added sweetness. Although I am a self-confessed mushroom avoider, I ate and enjoyed the whole thing. The mushroom itself was cooked perfectly, crisp on the outside and meaty in the middle. A far cry from the usual soggy, slippery mushrooms I tend to avoid at all costs.
The final savoury dish of the evening was the beetroot gratin. Another ingredient I am not overly fond of – but cooked in such a way I barely noticed it was beetroot at all.
Our first taste of sweetness came in rather an usual form. We were served the petit four which consisted of a cucumber powder sorbet, a great palette cleanser, along with a trio of handmade chocolates, each filled with ingredients you would not expect to find, but thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless. I particularly enjoyed the chocolate covered king oyster mushroom, sourced from the offcuts of a local supplier. The mushroom had been cooked in a kombucha reduction which resembled a honey like texture, and tasting nothing like a mushroom whatsoever, adding sweetness to the filling and balancing perfectly against the rich dark chocolate.
Finally, it was onto what turned out to be my favourite dish of the evening. A frangipane and plum tart with roasted juices, almond ice cream and a kombucha reduction, simply divine.
As the designated driver for the evening I was not drinking. So instead of wine I stuck to the homemade strawberry kombucha. I fell in love with the kombucha and after googling the many health benefits of the drink I have since then made it my mission to drink a glass of kombucha every day and I am already seeing the benefits.
VIVA Verdict: Overall, we had a dining experience like no other. The food is next level and the care and attention from all the staff is second to none. You can see the passion all the staff have, and it shines through in both the food and the service. Worth a visit if you find yourself in the Cheshire area. H y p h a gets a 10/10 from VIVA!