• Persian• Covent Garden
Founders Marwa Alkhalaf and Mohammad Paknejad opened Nutshell London to celebrate the incredible diversity of Iranian food – a cuisine still underrepresented compared to its neighbours around the Levant – inspired by family recipes and their travels around the country.
Food is inspired more by home cooking than restaurants, but nonetheless, there are some seriously modern touches, too: a kofte kebab replaces minced meat with jackfruit, and the increasingly popular heritage carrot makes its way into a dish too. Dishes are classically Iranian: fragrant without being too spicy, vibrant and created for the table to share. A Taste of Nutshell sharing menu is available for £35 per person.
Nutshell is in a plum location on St Martin’s Lane near Charing Cross, and its vibrant dining room – with its pink tiles and lush greenery – feels at once like modern London and old Iran. Stay for a long lunch or round up a big group for a milestone birthday.
Nutshell is a cute restaurant. It’s got gold detailing, pink seating, and the kind of tiling that takes up several megabytes of data in your photo folder after a summer holiday.
Nutshell is not nightclubbish or semi-unruly like The Palomar; it is elegant, brightly lit and colourful, hewn from Persian patterns and a palette of greens and pinks.
Dishes on the menu described as tersely as telegrams require interaction with staff who are delightful and informative but also, tragically, presume it a necessity to explain the concept.
It’s an interesting quirk of restaurant reviewing that when describing Iranian food, you’re taught to call it ‘Persian’. Persia is for culture, Iran is for politics. And no one wants to eat their politics.
They’ve opened this place as a loving tribute to the complex and distinctive mix of spices, herbs and nuts used in Iranian cooking.