Middle Eastern, Persian·
Bronze Award

SquareMeal Review of Nutshell

Bronze Award

In the cacophony of the London restaurant scene it can be hard for newcomers to make themselves heard, but when Nutshell opened it needed hardly any introduction before it was booked out for weeks to come. The recipe for success, perhaps, was in it singing its own song. With few other high-profile Iranian restaurants in the capital, there aren’t many places serving up this colourful cuisine in such a contemporary, central setting.

The menu is a tumble of vibrant ingredients – aubergines, saffron, pistachio, rose, barberries, pomegranate – made up into small sharing plates served family-style as and when they’re ready. The brevity of the menu’s terse descriptions can make dishes hard to decipher, but enthusiastic staff are on hand to guide and recommend.

Sesame and salt topped bread is delivered warm from the oven, crispy outsides pulling apart to reveal a fluffy centre – just the right consistency to mop up dips elsewhere. A baba ganoush style starter was powerfully smoky but garnishes got in the way of it being silky and scoop-able, and we’re not convinced the blackberries belonged, no matter how pretty they look.

Crisp brik pastry parcels, wrapped like small samosas, were filled with warming turmeric potatoes and served with fresh, crushed tomatoes that somehow made us feel nostalgic for a food we’d never had before. Elsewhere, grilled chicken was soft from a yogurt marinade and smoky from the grill; a saffron-rich stew of lentils, aubergines and onions, while not standout, was comforting.

There’s a concise wine list that runs through the European hero territories, while cocktails have been given an Iranian twist. A rose, raspberry and lychee concoction managed to avoid becoming cloying and too perfume-heavy, while a Champagne and Cognac classic was scented with orange oil.

For diners who find as much enjoyment from the visuals of a restaurant as they do the flavour of their dishes, Nutshell is a buzzy sweet spot: all candy-shop pink and green velvet, with plants filling shelves and floorspace. The dishes follow suit with intricate garnishes, and while sometimes over eager with its use of petals, nuts and fruit, Nutshell offers welcome respite from the chain restaurants of Covent Garden.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
Middle Eastern, Persian
Cool, Lively
Food Occasions
Dinner, Lunch
Special Features
Counter dining, Vegetarian options

About Nutshell

Authentic, nuanced Iranian food served in a warm, contemporary setting is what diners can expect at this new Theatreland restaurant run by husband-and-wife team Mohammad Paknejad and Marwa Alkhalaf. Originally from Tehran and Saudi Arabia respectively, the pair, together with Jeremy Borrow (former head chef at The Palomar) aim to showcase Iranian food as a cuisine beyond the kebab, with a menu focused on sharing plates adapted to the changing seasons.

Keen to explore the influence of different ethnic groups on regional cuisine, from Gilakis and Mazanderanis in the North to Arabs in the South, dishes will be as interesting and varied as the ancient techniques used to prepare them, from brining and pickling to drying and fermentation. Ingredients too will range from the familiar, such as bread and vegetables, to traditional Iranian store-cupboard staples such as dried lemons and limes and pickled garlic.

In terms of setting, Nutshell conforms to the latest trend of having an open kitchen and counter seating, both on the ground floor, while the semi-private first floor space offers an area for larger groups looking for a true Iranian feasting experience. The colour palette is reminiscent of a pistachio orchard, which served as inspiration for the restaurant’s name, featuring tones of green and pink contrasted by brass fixtures and surfaces of light marble and dark timber wood.

Location for Nutshell

30 St Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden, London, WC2N 4EJ

020 3409 7926


Opening Times

Mon 12:00-15:00
Tue 12:00-15:00
Wed 12:00-15:00
Thu 12:00-15:00
Fri 12:00-15:00
Sat 12:00-15:00
Sun 12:00-15:00
Mon 17:00-23:00
Tue 17:00-23:00
Wed 17:00-23:00
Thu 17:00-23:00
Fri 17:00-23:00
Sat 17:00-23:00
Sun 17:00-23:00

Reviews of Nutshell

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1 Review 


Could do alot better
06 December 2020  

The menu looked very inviting for us - fans of Persian food.

We ordered the tasting menu - which is not particularly cheap.

Unfortunately the fish was undercooked and had to be sent back. The waitresses then made a fuss about warming up the rice that went with it.

The poussin was undercooked in one area and we left that.

What took us by surprise was the reluctance to put things right from the waiting staff .

Who would mess about with potentially undercooked food in a restaurant setting given the potential  for adverse outcomes?

Not much of a Persian feel for the restaurant and certainly they need to up their game. 

Only two tables occupied and they were next to each other!

If they take this feedback constructively, then they might have a winning formula.

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