Nuala, london ec1, restaurant review hey, eater – leave your kids at home how to cook bacon in oven on broiler pan

Half past six in the evening is admittedly a fairly niche time to be sitting down for supper. However, on a tuesday in february, 63 miles away from our home, it works for me and my 11-year-old son, whom I note to be the only child on the city road, reinforcing the fact that britons have never really followed the continental european lead and have always been leavers. As in: “let’s go out for dinner and leave the kids at home.”

Nuala is in a new-build block on a corner adjacent to old street – aka “silicon” – roundabout. And while it has a spacious “porch” stacked with the wood that feeds its (USP) firepit, I read recently that wood-burning is adding between 24 per cent and 31 per cent to particle pollution emitted in london. Should we now be wearing respirator face masks inside restaurants, like cyclists?

“diet coke, please,” says my son, although somehow, without me quite noticing, he’s upsold a mocktail by our cheerful server: “what juices do you like?” “orange, mango, lemon, apple…” minutes pass, a drink appears.Green sauce


“so, this is pineapple, elderflower, lime, mint and soda,” says our man with the menus.

My son proves he has not been raised by hyenas by saying “thank you”, then mutters discreetly: ‘there’s not a single thing in here that I mentioned. But,” he sips, “I’ll drink it anyway.” this pretty much sets the tone.

I’m broadly OK about – without being thrilled by – the (smallish) menu, anglo-irish with a wood-smoked twist. Staff here have very sparkly foodie cvs, too; niall davidson, the co-owner and executive chef, a former butcher, is ex-chiltern firehouse while other staffers are exfat duck/dinner/noma/ yada & blah (though please don’t google yada & blah; it is currently closed on the compelling grounds of never having been open).

The boy’s previous “table for two” dates have been destinations where I figured we’d find the kind of stuff 11-year-olds enjoy. But nuala – despite smelling (to an 11-year-old) like a place that makes posh pizza – is, we swiftly discovered, more of a challenge.Green sauce starters of salt baked beetroot, sheep’s milk ricotta and blood orange? Nah. I may have persuaded him to try the veal sweetbreads and cauliflower rarebit until our waiter mentioned the word “glands”.

We pass on “start”. I order the galloway sirloin with buttermilk potatoes. My son – not overwhelmed by the prospect of steak, baffled by brill with pernod, artichoke and dulse, shruggingly uninterested in cod with yellow pepper sauce, calcots and langoustine – settles for the fireplace pumpkin with isle of mull cheddar and green sauce. I shore it up with sides of cabbage and bacon and maris piper dauphinoise with lamb fat gravy, allowing myself to be led towards a bottle of notting hill blonde lager and, subsequently, a glass of a smooth austrian red.

Quite aside from my son’s game attempts to find something edible (the charred chunks of pumpkin pimped with radicchio and the green sauce and a couple of walnuts would be disappointing even if you weren’t 11), my steak proves OK but far from special.Kids home

Desserts disappoint, too: my son demolishes the rhubarb, clotted cream ice cream and oats more out of hunger than enthusiasm, while my chocolate mousse, coffee and smoked chocolate crumble read better than it tastes, which is wholly average. Indeed, our only glimpse of potential greatness is the side order of dauphinoise, which unfortunately, by dint of having hung around too long at the pass and being lukewarm, also falls short. But it ‘s still delicious so I donate it to my son: “the best potatoes I’ve had, ever.”