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70-74 City Road
With a team whose CVs include The Fat Duck and Noma, Nuala sprinkles a little bit of stardust to a grimy corner of City Road by Old Street roundabout (choose a seat facing into the restaurant). But while the view through the huge windows may be aggressively urban, it’s softened inside by curvy leather banquettes, warm brick and wood walls, homely Cesca chairs and a firepit in the kitchen.
We preferred mains of cod with leeks and a beautiful, buttery sauce, and a roughly chopped steak tartare made sloppy with egg yolk and a stout sauce, to starters of sautéed sweetbreads mismatched with a sort of cauliflower cheese, and a pedestrian (but very pretty) bowl of salt-baked beetroot with ricotta and orange. Extras impressed the most: seaweed butter with good sourdough, a pre-starter cracker slathered with cod’s roe, dauphinois potatoes with lamb fat gravy, and fried cabbage and bacon (the last two would make a lovely main course in themselves).
We enjoyed what we ate, but didn’t find it very different to a good gastropub, while service from too many staff and long waits for drinks (from an interesting list) gave our lunch a rather disjointed feel. Guinness, whiskey cocktails and live music in Nuala’s downstairs bar might be a better first taste of a newcomer with promise.
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70-74 City Road
020 3904 0462
Old Street Tube Station 42m
Old Street Station 127m
The Brewery 549m
The Barbican Arts & Conference Centre 662m
Mon-Sat 12N-12M (Fri-Sat -2am)
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 4
Nuala (pronounced ‘noo-la’) is among the cooler places I have visited recently. Its look and feel fits perfectly with the area and the cooking here is pretty serious, with an emphasis on locally-sourced British produce. The owner is Irish and the venue named after his daughter. Whereas downstairs features a late-night bar which might not feel out of place in Dublin (there is even a ledge on which pints of Guinness can ‘rest’ while settling), the exposed brickwork and metal furnishings that adorn the upstairs dining area seem more like the sort of thing one might find in Manhattan. On the weekday night when a group of us visited, the venue was packed, but service ran slickly. The pedigree of the main team at Nuala is clear: a head chef who previously worked under Heston Blumenthal and a sommelier with experience at Copenhagen’s Noma. The menu offers a broad spread with a range of meat, fish and vegetable options. Diners can traverse across snacks, small plates, mains and larger sharing plates. The advantage of being in a five-person group is that we got to see the full range of the kitchen’s skill, opting to share among us all nine of the small plates offered by Nuala as well as two of their larger joints of meat. Presentation throughout was superlative. Food-wise, the emphasis was on freshness and harmony, often working with seasonal ingredients and pairing them intelligently. Spring greens with ricotta and chicken skin epitomised such an approach. Meanwhile, a more traditional beef tartare was still rendered beautiful by an orange-hued egg yolk, cheddar from Somerset and chopped gherkin. The mains similarly did not disappoint and our group especially loved the whole rotisserie chicken. While meat from this bird can often be blend, the roasting and accompanying saison sauce provided depth to the flavour. Wines, drawn from an eclectic list, also pleased. We opted for a Galician white and a Portuguese red. Pricing is generally fair for both food and drink. Hard to find complaints. We will be returning.
Food + drink: 5
When you read the career trajectory of the head chef here you expect great things, and when you walk into this place and see the open firepit and smell the sucking pig roasting you expect even greater things.
Set in an industrial themed space upstairs featuring exposed brickwork, steel girders and huge slabs of granite for work tops.
Our party was 7 in total, old friends who haven't seen each other for a while, and this place is perfect for it. Large friendly atmosphere with staff who are more than happy to engage in conversations with you, the music is great and not so loud you have to shout, which is becoming a big turnoff in my old age.
The food arrives, I have veal sweetbreads to start and rabbit for my main, others in the group had cod, the pumpkin salad and a couple have steak. It's all excellent, made evident with the chatter having stopped completely and our only communication being nodding and pointing to plates with forks, exchanging plates with the other members, then nodding some more.
When you finish dinner we head downstairs to the bar serving some classic cocktails and excellent whiskies. A special mention should go to one of the bartenders, who not only made me one of the best old fashioneds I've had, but also made multiple excellent whisky recommendations including a Tullamore Dew 14 and a delicious Glenfarclas 25. Chatty and friendly she's hard to miss, just follow the bright blue hair...
I'll be back here, it's perfect for small to large groups who want good food done very, very well. I just need to find a small to large group immediately...
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