What: This new addition to London’s theatreland offers a modern twist on Iranian cuisine
Who: Nutshell is the brainchild of Tehrani-born Mohammad Paknejad and his partner Marwa Alkhalaf, who previously worked as a chef at Mayfair’s two-Michelin-starred Greenhouse restaurant. Ex-Noma chef Leonardo Pereira was originally set to oversee the kitchen and ran a preview pop-up in Brick Lane last year, but he has since departed the project and Jeremy Borrow, formerly of London’s lauded Israeli restaurant Palomar, has taken the reins as head chef.
The food: Small sharing plates are the focus here, with the menu split between breads, mezze, and dishes grilled and cooked on the stove. Nutshell recommends ordering around eight dishes between two, including bread, which means the bill can start to creep up. Starters include bazaar bread baked in house and sprinkled with seeds (£3.50), which can be used to scoop up small dishes of feta, herbs and walnuts (£4) and Caspian olive tapenade with radish, walnut and pomegranate (£4.50).
Mezze plates include smokey aubergine with shallot, walnut and mint (£6.50); and chard and wild spinach with saffron yoghurt and lemon (£6.50). Prices jump a bit for the main meat and seafood dishes, with an octopus leg with sabzi salsa on a bed of butterbeans coming in at £16.50. Portions can fall on the small side, and though lamb cutlets with sour cherry and potato tahdig are a highlight, at £18.50 for two you can’t help but wish they could be enjoyed as a larger main.
The drinks: Paknejad and Alkhalaf have worked with bar expert Jonas Stern, formerly of Pollen Street Social, to create a broad list of cocktails, mocktails and a selection of ‘spiced up’ gins mixed with ingredients such as raspberry and rose; and sour cherry and pink pepper. The wine list ranges from approximately £30 - £112 a bottle, championing varieties from the Middle East and Arabic areas, alongside ‘classics’ such as burgundy pinot noir and Chablis.
The vibe: Nutshell’s striking interior is the work of creative studio B3, who previously designed Gymkhana and Lyle’s, and takes inspiration from Persian patterns. The restaurant continues the trend for open kitchens, with plush velvet counter seating, and has a buzzy but cosy feel in its 86-cover dining room. Nutshell’s pink and green colour palate is a nod to the pistachio, which also inspired the restaurant’s name.
And another thing: It’s nice to see another independent opening in this chain-heavy area of London’s West End. While it may share a street with Prezzo, Starbucks and Café Nero, Nutshell joins a growing number of strong operators in the vicinity including Bancone, Quality Chop House and Barrafina.
30 St Martin's Ln, Charing Cross, London WC2N 4ER