Glør might be small but its dishes are big on flavour, writes Amanda Wragg who is full of praise for another Halifax foodie hotspot. Pictures by James Hardisty.

Glor, Halifax
welcome100%
Food80%
Atmosphere100%
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95%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (7 Votes)
78%

It’s thrilling to watch Halifax reinventing itself. Its renaissance seems unstoppable; from the doldrums to sunlit uplands in a matter of a couple of years. The “Shoreditch of the North” epithet is proving to be more than a journalist’s fancy and is bedding in. Walking through town the other night to Glør, I spotted two groovy new bars, København and Meandering Bear, and Somerset House, the stunning Georgian building which has recently opened as a boutique bar and restaurant.

Host Salad, Cauliflower, kohlrabi, fennel, cabbage, dill, mustard and sour cream.

Glør (roughly “embers” in Norwegian) is joined to the Alexandra Beer House where you go for great craft ales – Glør doesn’t have a licence – but the truth is anyone would struggle to offer its extraordinary range. There’s something sweet about popping next door anyway, it feels like you’re part of a community. It’s a tiny space – just 15 covers – but very stylish in a stripped-back Scandi way, with muted walls, dark wood floors and black tables. On a blackboard are chalked a few home-spun phrases: fika (“a moment to slow down and appreciate the good things in life”) and lagom (“not too much, not too little, just right”) which proves to not be the case here, but then I routinely over-order.

Salt Fish Casserole, Cod, fish stock, tomato, onion, wine and herbs.

The menu is as stripped back as the room. There’s a handful of “snacks” and “mains” and one “sweet”: pancakes with toasted marshmallow and chocolate. It all comes off the page really well; vegetable tempura, paccheri (preserved vegetables, goat curd and hazelnuts) and lutefisk (cured cod, cultured butter, bacon, greens and herbs). Salt fish casserole is a beauty, perfectly seasoned, with shards of crisp black fish skin giving great texture, and it’s a steal at £6.50. Ox cheek (£8) is in the snacks section but would easily have fed even me as a main course with Høst salad and fermented chips. It’s a stunning dish; sticky, treacly and sweet, falling apart with just a look, crunchy radish bringing bite, and whatever the “chicken fat” element is, it works. The salad is a bowl of warm cauliflower, kohlrabi, fennel and dill bound together with a mustard and sour cream dressing – so simple, so effective.

Ox Cheek, Chicken fat, radish, carrot.

We should have stopped there, but then I’d have missed out on a slice of deeply satisfying salt-aged brisket (“smoked for longer than you sleep”) which turns up on a flatbread that is, frankly, superfluous. I’m not saying it’s not good – it is (wildly buttery and indulgent, like the best roti) but it takes the focus away from the star of the show. Tunnbrödsrulle Mk2 (me neither) turns out to be pork and hop sausage wrapped in another flatbread, slathered in smoked Wensleydale. So, a hot dog, but not like any you’ve ever had. It’s genius. Celeriac remoulade, curried potato and mustard mayo make a cracking accompaniment.
Wild mushroom kebab will keep the veggies happy, and there’s crab & anchovy smørresbrød for pescatarians. I’ve heard good things about their hay- smoked lamb rump too, and the roasted celeriac, onion and potato stew side sounds terrific. The young chef, Adam Ryan, is delivering these dishes from a miniscule open kitchen – all he seems to have is one of those Big Green Egg barbecues, a tiny table-top oven and a Campingaz stove. I might have made the last one up, but you get the drift.
Ryan left school at 16 and worked at Holdsworth House and the Design House before decamping to Cornwall and Rick Stein’s empire, all the while saving up for his own place. After a month of eating food in Norway and Sweden, he knew which way his cooking was heading – he’d always been drawn to the Nordic aesthetic, and the 22-course tasting menu at Maaemo in Oslo sealed the deal.
Halifax, for all its forward thinking isn’t Oslo, so it’s a gamble for Ryan: can he stay true to his vision and not alienate his customers? “My brother’s a great supporter but he’s also my fiercest critic,” he says. “Just sell ribs and chicken wings, forget smörgåsbord.” He’s wrong. It’s good to see Young Turks like Ryan sticking to their guns – he joins Alisdair-Brooke Taylor at the Moorcock and Jono Hawthorne at Feed, not so much pushing the envelope as repositioning the post office.
There’s a lot to like at Glør. The room is cool. The vibe is cheerful. Service (Ryan’s partner Cristina, moonlighting from her day job as a journalist) is charming. Some dishes might benefit from a little more refinement in appearance, but as we all know, looks ain’t everything – it’s the taste that counts and there’s no lack of that here – on the contrary, flavours are fabulous; this new kid on the block knows what he’s doing. He cooks with verve and enthusiasm and his instinct is to feed you well. Stick to your guns young man, ’Fax is ready for a bit of fika.
Glør, 19-21 Alexandra Street, Halifax HX1 1BS. Book via email: glorhalifax@gmail.com

About The Author

Amanda Wragg

Mandy Wragg is a freelance food journalist, writing and inspecting for the Yorkshire Post, Alastair Sawday, the Morning Advertiser, the AA, Cool Places and David Hancock's Inn Places. She co-writes www.squidbeak.co.uk, an independent guide to eating, drinking and staying in Yorkshire.

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