Showcasing regional Iranian specialities with a London flavour
Nutshell, the restaurant on St Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden, reopens welcoming customers back with a brand-new spring menu, inviting guests to dine in chic and stylish surroundings nodding to the pistachio orchards of Iran during spring with plush pink and pistachio velvet seating, brass chairs, marble, and intricately patterned tiles for their unique take on Iranian cuisine.
Saudi born Chef Director Marwa Alkhalaf (previously The Green House) and Head Chef, Christopher Lyon (previously NOPI and Scully) have curated a menu celebrating the wealth of flavours and diversity of regional dishes of Iran utilising the best of the British produce, with a seasonal and modern twist that speaks to their London home.
The la carte menu has been carefully considered, cherry picking the very best of Marwa’s and Mohammad’s favourite plates and dishes spanning the fragrant and floral North to southernmost tip of Iran with its notes of spice and fire. Building on this, Marwa and Chris have created new and contemporary additions weaving in London influences as well as the Middle Eastern. The new dishes on the new menu take inspiration from the tradional dishes of Iran with a key abundance of herbs, fruits, and nuts with layers of deep and fresh flavours with an extra focus on low waste, local, British, and seasonal produce.
Their Spring menu includes some of their mainstay mezzes, freshly bakes Bazaar bread, Anjeer Salad with caramelised feta and fig jam and Jegar, grilled chicken livers with pomegranate and tamarind sauce, bandari spices and sabzi pesto. Marwa brings her childhood favourite of a Saudi Khorma to the table, which is also a classic of the South of Iran, given a grown-up twist here: young yellow dates are grilled over hot coals served on a tahini and yoghurt, topped with a honey and lemon dressing and sprigs of mint, pumpkin seeds, candied orange rind and sumac and the deep-fried Mushroom Kotlet and burnt onion yoghurt dip is the perfect snack whist sipping a spiced Negroni Irani.
Main plates include Mahi ba Limo: Chalk stream trout, onion, black lime soubis, confit fennel, sea vegetables, burnt butter pistachio and sour cherry and Jackfruit Kofte Jabrizi: inspired by those found in the city of Tabriz. Kofte of mixed celeriac and jackfruit, rice, split chickpeas, herbs, and spices is served on beetroot and Persian lime purée. Nutshell favourite, Mazandarani Lamb: grilled perfectly with apricot relish, tomato salsa and golden raisins is joined by a duck special, Ordak Ba Angur: seared and served with hazelnut butter, scorched grapes and ginger and saffron vinaigrette.
A hopeful ode to incoming summer is Nutshell’s beautiful Bastani: the most perfect end to their Spring menu – a twist on a traditional ice cream sandwich. Persian ice cream traditionally made with rose water, saffron and pistachio is delicately flavoured instead with fresh lemon, layered between almond tuilles with a sour cherry glaze, spiced icing sugar, blitzed pistachio, and mint. Sweet, sour, and nutty.
Expertly selected artisanal and natural wines and an Iranian innovative cocktail list combining spirits and spice accompanies for refreshing takes on classic serves. Highlights include the Banafsh Sour with borage gin, blackberry, lemon, and honeyand Tipsy Doogh: yoghurt, saffron, turmeric, cumin, and gin.
Chef director, Marwa Alkhalaf said: “For a restaurant like ours, who had just begun to blossom in Covent Garden after opening in 2019, having to close for most of the year was disheartening. We are so grateful for the support we received from our customers and guests during these difficult times, who made reservations who ordered our Feast Boxes when our doors were closed and bought gift certificates. We cannot thank them enough. We’re so happy to have them at Nutshell again, and see London slowly come back to life, with the hope for new diners to join us here too.”