Nuala: Dining just got a whole lot cooler

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.