Award-winning Norn chef decides to go it alone

Edinburgh''Chefs in the kitchen at Norn.
Edinburgh''Chefs in the kitchen at Norn.
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He lit the Leith foodie scene on fire two years ago and now the culinary star behind the city’s best restaurant has set a place at the Broughton Street table.

An eager team of helpers and wife Laura are all hands to the deck to whip the former Seasons restaurant into shape after chef Scott Smith announced his shock departure from Leith’s Norn, just hours before it was crowned restaurant of the year at the Edinburgh Evening News Restaurant Awards.

Although humbled to accept the award on behalf of Norn, relations at the restaurant had soured and the kitchen door slammed behind him for the final time on Monday.

The future of the top Leith restaurant is now uncertain following his departure. Calls to the eaterie went unanswered.

But Scott said new venture, Fhior, will be a breath of fresh air and he and Laura are over the moon to have full creative control over every part of the restaurant.

“Broughton Street is bright and bustling and home to a lot of incredible restaurants and bars so hopefully we will add to that.

“The restaurant will be split into two with the main dining room in the back.

“That will be the main place for dinner with a set tasting menu for the evenings.”

Scott explained that the front of the building will be a more relaxed setting where customers can pop in just for a glass of wine, some nibbles and leave or then move through to the dining area.”

“They are essentially separate areas, one more casual and the other more refined,” Scott explained, “There’s no dress codes or anything like that – we want to make good food and good wine accessible to everybody.”

Although it is early days, Scott and Laura said Fhior, which means true or honest, could be open in the next few weeks. “We could open up next week as the building has been a functioning restaurant but we want to make it our own and aim to open by the end of May.”

Scott, who trained under Michelin-star chef Geoff Smeddle of The Peat Inn, St Andrews, said the food will be very fresh, simple and honest cooking carrying on the style which earnt him recognition at Norn.

He added: “Norn was a huge part of my life. Laura and I put everything into the place – through that we’ve met some incredible people, staff and customers. We’re very lucky to have such a great following and this is the next chapter.”

The couple, who feel desperately sad that their Norn adventure has ended, said they also feel bad for diners who have purchased vouchers and have asked those affected to email to discuss if they wanted to try the new venue for his cooking instead.

They said: “We write to tell you that, with great regret, we have had to walk away from Norn. This was a terribly difficult and heartbreaking decision to make as we have spent the past three years of our lives building and creating what has become a restaurant we were immensely proud of. We ask people to get in touch through email.

“There is no way we can afford for these people to be left out of pocket for what they have paid for. I feel bad for bookings as well.”