So today we’re heading for the Charing Cross bit of Covent Garden – by that I mean Charing Cross is the closest station. It took me years of living in London before I realised the one vital Covent Garden truth – avoid using Covent Garden tube station. It’s something a nightmare to get in and out of as it’s really busy and only has lifts. And it’s often not the closest to the Covent Garden establishment you’re heading to either. It’s much better to choose between Leicester Square or Charing Cross which are at either end of the glory of Covent Garden. Today it’s a short walk from Charing Cross to another Iranian establishment – recently opened Nutshell.
Two loads of Iranian food in a month makes me happy – I’m getting to love it more and more. And the dishes at Nutshell were quite different to my recent experience at nearby Berenjak in Soho. The restaurant is run by husband and wife team Mohammad and Marwa (he’s Iranian and she’s from Saudi Arabia) who wanted to share the secrets of Iranian cuisine that is cooked in every home with us. Lucky us!
What’s on the menu
Again it’s a sharing plate kind of arrangement (more happiness as I can get to taste more stuff). Food arrives as its ready and service was quite spread out.
Initially we didn’t order any bread until our waitress insisted that we would be missing out on something special. So a freshly made loaf of bazaar bread was delivered to our table. We could see at first sight that this is no ordinary bread. It was warm, beautifully soft and sweet and very quickly polished off. It did also go perfectly with the dipping-style dishes the we had.
Navigating the menu is quite an adventure and you’re not sure quite what you’re going to get. How I love that – a new learning experience of deliciousness. From the Mezze section we opted for the Adasi – beluga lentils served with yogurt and barberries. I love a lentil and this dish was tasty and soothing with the tart flavour of the barberries (an important ingredient in Iranian cookery) and the smooth, creamy yogurt.
This was the dish of the day. From the Grill section, the octopus was served with sabzi salsa and butterbeans. I do like a bit of octopus but have to accept that it can be somewhat chewy, even when cooked perfectly. Today’s plate was so delightfully tender and bursting with flavour with it’s slight charring. The best octopus ever…seriously. And it helps that I love butter beans – such an underrated ingredient. Sabzi salsa is basically a mix of fresh herbs adding a unique zestiness. A dream plate of food.
More wonderful flavours
We liked the sound of rice with sour cherries so we ordered a bowl of Albaloo Polo. And yes they are a great match. Looks pretty and pink, too.
This is the Khoresht Bademjan from the Stove section. The rich pearl onion, split chickpea and aubergine combination makes for a substantial vegetarian dish. In fact, it’s only while I’m writing this that I realise we had mainly vegetarian dishes. With recipes this delicious it must be easy to be a vegetarian in Iran. Clearly.
It’s hard to make a plate of spinach and chard look that pretty I guess, but it did taste delicious. It’s actually wild spinach that’s served fried with the chard with yogurt and flavours of saffron and lemon.
We did indulge in one meaty delight -Joosh Pareh. Little oxtail dumplings come with sour cherries and chickpeas in a rich broth-like sauce. A satisfying and different dish.
It’s so wonderful to try something completely different. I’m loving the experience of ordering after much thought and care and still having very little idea what the flavours are going to be like. Persian food rocks.
Today’s price point
Our sharing plates for two came to £58.
Wine starts from £30 a bottle. We shared a bottle of Armenian Chardonnay – how exotic is that!
Nutshell is at 30 St Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden WC2