We went for an early dinner on Tuesday at Irish chef Niall Davidson’s latest venture – Nuala. Niall was last at Chiltern Firehouse and alongside him in the kitchen is Colin McSherry from the Fat Duck, so we were really looking forward to testing the menu.
Nuala is a cool, woody dark space on City road, close to Old Street roundabout with a big open kitchen, a big open fire and a really good 80s/90s disco soundtrack. The crowd were mostly young cool crowd with a few city types, owing to the location.
When in an ‘Irish’ establishment one should drink Guinness, or Whiskey, so that’s what we did.
There’s a whiskey bar downstairs with an impressive selection on offer and the staff will find you the whiskey you’ll want to drink. The bar is a great spot for a Friday night drink. Even if you’re not eating.
We started the eating with the ‘one-bite’ snack menu, at £2.50 per plate, they amount to two bites of food but they’re good value and a great way to start the feeding. The cod roe crackers were salty and the perfect accompaniment to the Guinness. The soda bread with clementine and foie gras shavings was not so good, it was an imbalanced mouthful that left a sour Marmalade-like taste in our mouths.
Onwards and upwards?
Nuala are best known for their steaks, whole Turbots and hunks of meat but we were keen to taste the more ‘cheffy’ dishes on offer so we ordered most of the starters.
The waitress delivered a basket of the most perfect Sourdough. The salt baked beetroot, with sheep’s milk ricotta and blood orange, was safe, a classic but the blood orange gave the whole dish a delicious lift.
Brown crab on toast with lardo, looked pretty shocking, slimy. It was relatively tasty, although it didn’t blow our minds.
Veal sweetbreads were served in a rich rarebit sauce, the combination of the strong flavours fought against each other, and this dish didn’t really come together.
The smoked Cornish mussels, with juniper, were absolutely standout. Straight out of the sea they were cooked in a cider and pistachio butter and were the winning dish of the evening, we were close to ordering a second portion, we didn’t, but we did order more of that Sourdough to make sure we got every last drop of the sauce.
A main portion of one of Nuala’s signatures, steak tartare came served with dripping fries plus a side of stout sauce, it’s such good value at £15, it was perfectly seasoned and had a lovely dippy egg.
For dessert we had the salted caramel tart with caramel ice cream, because we have a penchant for caramel ice cream.
We finished at the whiskey bar. And we’ll be back to try all of the mains.