Review: Michael Nadra Primrose Hill

It was a balmy night in London and we fancied some local food. Primrose Hill is just a hop, skip and a jump away and I’d heard murmurings about Michael Nadra, a restaurant almost completely hidden from view next to the canal. Sure enough, just past Melrose and Morgan, was a little path that led down to the smart looking restaurant. This is Michael Nadra’s second eponymous restaurant, the other being in Chiswick. And the man himself (I think?) greeted us and checked we were being looked after, so he presumably does split his attentions between both restaurants admirably.

It was a Friday night and the restaurant was quietly buzzy, not full but with enough people to give some atmosphere. It has a large heated garden (cocktail garden) that you can eat in during good weather, although we were inside. Large windows let plenty of light in, and the decor in general is smart bistro style. Leather banquettes with smart crockery / cutlery and linen but nothing overly fancy. It’s £30 for 2 courses and £36 for 3 courses. Not outrageous for the area I suppose, but not cheap either for a “local” restaurant so I was expecting good things. There are quite a few supplements as well (e.g. the fillet steak, in fact 5 dishes in total have supplements). The wine list is extensive, with just about enough by the glass / carafe although a few more (especially on the shorter red section) would have helped.

Tasty chewy rolls Soup Artful fish

Bread was brought over, four slightly small looking rolls that defied their looks and were delicious. Softer than expected with a good chew and the most fantastic salted French butter. I started with an interesting combination of seared tuna, squid, green beans and gnocchi. The tuna was properly seared with a bright red interior, and the mix of squid tubes and tentacles was admirably soft with a bit of char from a hot grilling. The gnocchi was OK if a bit heavy and lacking the herb flavour promised. Green beans were al-dente and the tapenade on the side was salty and moreish. All good components, it wasn’t a cohesive dish for me though but tasty individual morsels. And it was topped with a lot of basil. A tiny bit odd. I think some chile would have added kick and brought it together. Good execution at least but maybe a few changes needed to the concept. I had a very nice glass of Chablis (£8) with it, soft and drinkable. The wife went for the asparagus, broccoli and spinach veloute. A large bowl of soup topped with microgreens was brought over. Unfortunately very under-seasoned, she requested salt (none was at the table) and that lifted it significantly. A good bowl of soup after that, very light with good greens flavour and the addition of toasted almonds added depth and body. But quite expensive as part of a £30 two course menu.

Pink lamb Plenty of chicken

Mains. I had lamb rump, sautéed sweetbreads and braised neck with ratatouille. The rump was delicious, very soft for a tricky cut to cook. And the neck was braised beautifully, soft and unctuous. Similarly the sweetbread was excellent with a nice crust and soft middle, I wish there had been another one. It was combined with a decent ratatouille and green beans. Paired with a wonderful Italian Pinot Nero, light and delicious with the lamb. The wife had chicken with borlotti & edamame beans, baby artichokes and tomatoes. A big plate of food came, with a variety of confit chicken cuts (breast, thigh and wings I believe). It was sitting atop a base of beans, with artichokes and tomatoes. The chicken was beautifully soft and flavoursome (after some more seasoning from us), and the other components matched well and were well cooked. But as a dish, too unrefined at this price point I’d say. And big.

Oozing fondant

We shared a dessert to finish. The classic chocolate fondant paired with the slightly trendier salted caramel ice cream. The fondant was absolutely excellent, very soft and flowing in the middle with deep flavour. The ice cream was good, flecked with salty caramel bits. Although somewhat melted. Paired with a sweet riesling which was delicious (if not the best combination with the chocolate, to be fair as mentioned by the waiter).

So, all-in, £105 for 5 courses and 3 glasses of wine. I was very pleased with the meal actually, the friendly knowledgable service (our waiter was excellent) and “locals” atmosphere helped perhaps, since the food wasn’t perfect. But, having said all that, it was an enjoyable meal with good cooking and ingredients. But, perhaps a touch more bite and refinement in the dishes would elevate it to the next level.

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