Opening a fine-dining operation in a street food market is a pursuit for either the foolish or the brave and the jury is still out on Adrian Martin’s Wildflower, an intriguing restaurant which serves often brilliant food that's jarringly incongruous with its casual setting.
The young Irish chef, who has also penned two cookbooks, has set up Wildflower inside a repurposed shipping container as part of the Buck Street Market development in Camden, where it’s stablemates include punnily named street food joints such as Lord of the Wings and Juice Junkiez. As far as we could see, Wildflower is the only restaurant proper in the entire establishment.
The intimate dining room is stylishly decorated with teal velour chairs and white tablecloths, while floor-to-ceiling glass doors overlook the market itself, boasting a contrasting aesthetic of pastel-splashed surfaces designed as prime Instagram backdrops. Wildflower exclusively serves a seasonally evolving tasting menu (wine pairing available), with the number of courses dependant on whether you're willing to splash out on supplements. The dishes are all put together using foraged ingredients sourced by the kitchen team and there is some real technical know how on show here.
We kicked things off with heavenly soda bread (kept warm in a brown paper bag) that arrived accompanied by cultured butter, perfect for smearing all over. Next up, a posh take on a Subway sandwich (the chef’s words, not ours) which saw fleshy lobster tail drizzled with Wildflower’s version of ranch dressing and finished off with a zingy carrot coleslaw.
The dish of the night however was the beef, which had been slow-cooked for three days, deep-fried and then drizzled with barbecued sauce. The intensely meaty flavour paired well with the crunch of accompanying hash browns, while a tarragon bearnaise (lighter than normal thanks to the substitution of butter with oil) stopped things from becoming too heavy.
We also loved our autumnal bowl of mushroom ‘custard’, made using Cornish ceps, which was finished off with a shower of black truffle shavings - delightfully warming and creamy, it almost felt like a savoury dessert.
The puddings proper meanwhile, consisted of fig leaf ice cream topped with a mouth-puckeringly tart handful of fermented cherries, followed by a late summer dish inspired by a bramble bush: velvety sheep’s yoghurt, a handful of Cornish blackberries and a scoop of refreshing sorrel ice cream.
As tasting menus go, £60 per person (excluding drinks) is far from bad value. It’s also no doubt an impressive feat to turn out dishes this complex from what is certainly a tiny kitchen, and the head chef even finds time to deliver some of the dishes to the table himself, which is a nice touch.
We hope that Camden locals and those from further afield are able to look past Wildflower’s somewhat odd location and make their way to what must be London’s fanciest shipping container - the food at least, deserves it.