Nothing of nel. but its name, lit in blue neon, is visible from street level.
After working under Nigel Howarth at Michelin-starred Northcote Manor in the Northern English countryside, chef and owner Nelly Robinson has created his own destination restaurant.
The narrow, descending staircase and low ceilings give it a bunker vibe, though in a cosy way. Moody, dark leather benches and exposed brick are tempered by honey-coloured wooden chairs and glowing copper lights. Diners have full view of the open kitchen, stretching across the left-hand wall.
The menu is degustation only; six courses at lunch, eight at dinner, with optional matching wines. And despite modern, sophisticated presentation across food and design, the core inspiration behind nel. is decidedly homey.
There is “green peas and ham”, a pea soup recipe based on Robinson’s mum’s, presented in a small glass besides piping-hot croquettes, filled with pork cheek that is pressed overnight. Pumpkin soup is topped with native herbs and “olive soil”, and there are miniature mature cheddar-cheese scrolls, served warm with wild-garlic butter.
Because the menu is seasonal, dishes are highly subject to change. For mains, you may choose between dishes such as bonito served with bitter lemon curd, fondant potato and raw oyster, or tender flap steak atop cauliflower puree and crisp cavolo nero. For dessert: tiny, coin sized “eccles cakes”, a pastry from the north of England filled with English-breakfast tea soaked currants and topped with lemon curd.
A full vegetarian tasting menu is also offered, and dietary requirements are catered to upon prior request.