This is a beautiful venue, reached via the City Walls in Chester, with views of tree tops that somehow soothe the soul. The décor is restrained with fabulous lighting, and it is all designed to be relaxing.
We had to get our heads around some interesting concepts to fully appreciate the plant based cuisine at Hypha. Fermenting? Sounded like turning the kitchen into a distillery. Turned out I had not fully appreciated that coffee is fermented, as is vinegar and so is cheese. We just had to familiarise ourselves with the language of fermentation. Hopefully this is useful to our lovely readers, because Hypha, in Chester, is well worth getting acquainted with.
We enjoyed a tasting menu. We began with an ‘amuse-bouche’; something that pleases the mouth. These were single bite-sized hors d’oeuvre on 3 bamboo spoons; originally a Chinese tradition. The first discovery was that fermentation intensified flavour wonderfully. The full impact of the mushrooms was pure pleasure. We also learnt that mixing preserved mushrooms with fresh mushrooms, when making a soup, accentuates the flavour.
Sourdough bread is also a fermented process. It so happens it is my favourite bread, and it was both crusty and deliciously moist with a miso, a paste made from barley, to dip into. We sampled mushrooms, lemon juice, orzo and garlic oil with ‘pom pom’ moss to follow. Next came minestrone ‘soup’ disguised as ramen. Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup. I loved the tomato garum, slightly sweet, slightly spicy.
Autumn 2020: beetroot on a canvas was semi-sweet and rich. Beetroot is one of those priceless foods, equally good for savoury and sweet. The petit four comprised a preserved mushroom ‘gel’ covered in the best dark chocolate imaginable. I preferred the strawberry covered dark chocolate, and loved the slightly bitter taste against the sweetness of the fruit We finished with frangipane cake and plum. Frangipane is made with almonds and is a kind of batter cake. Loved it. It came with roasted plum juices and home-made ice-cream, that was pure vanilla freshness and vibrancy.
Worth mentioning that the philosophy behind this method of cooking is to eliminate waste, whilst delivering on pure taste. Hypha buys whole crops from local suppliers. And so a network of support and supply has emerged. Probably this was one of the most enjoyable and thought provoking experiences, I have had recently and it will stay with me The organic red wine was full-bodied and delicious, and we will hunt down the supplier. Try this venue: it will not disappoint.