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March 4, 2022

Nandine’s – ‘a lovely little jewel of a restaurant’

Whilst not undiscovered, this small restaurant needs to be top of your list for a visit. This is Kurdish food from the heart and soul of its owner and her life on a plate. With only 36 covers, the warmth, atmosphere and comfortable surroundings make you feel part of the family. It’s not elaborately decorated, but it’s comfy.

It’s far from the journey that Pary, the owner, had experienced in her life from war-torn Kurdistan to the Elephant and Castle and now, presented to us with joy in Camberwell. Looking for safety and a welcoming place to settle, this is probably why her food is so outstanding. Everything she cooks has been gained from the experience of the long journey via village after village to reach her happy place.

The food at Nandine’s is a kaleidoscope of colours and a myriad of unbelievable flavours. You can see the care and attention in every dish that you are served, plate after plate of food so wonderfully spiced and cooked. Forget Turkey or the Middle East – Kurdistan has arrived in London in a spectacular fashion. For those of you who think that any relatively new place must be expensive – think again, the prices here do not reflect the wonderful quality of Pary’s dishes.

I must mention the ‘mezze’ to start with – after all, that’s what it is normally served as, a starter. It was a rather large platter, to say the least. But large doesn’t always relate to quality, but the mezze is everything you should expect and more – dips of vibrant red peppers, sweet and smoky with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds, hummus topped with olive oil and sesame seeds and flavoured with lime. Yoghurt and tahini with capers and diced crunchy cucumber that gives it a zing. There are others, almost too delicious to describe, and this platter is served with flavoursome flatbreads, lightly crisped, oiled and dusted with spice. To be honest, the whole starter was quite filling, and ideal for lunchtime customers who want something truly tasty. It’s ideal for a ‘fill up’, each plate has no less than a combination of 10 ingredients to savour!

Nandine’s is more of a ‘café come restaurant’ where you meet with friends and family, and by no means romantic. The whole thing is an experience that you feel part of, including the host and staff. It certainly gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling!

The menu isn’t huge, but by gosh it’s good, and it does change every so often, mainly for brunch. We had beautifully spiced lamb and chicken wings – I fail to describe the taste other than delicious, as you know that the key is the spicing. What I do know is – wait for it – never have I had such delicious chips! Spiced with Baharat spice, yoghurt and pomegranate on the top, they are almost a meal in themselves. Whoever thought that fried potatoes could taste so good…

The usual Shakshuka and kebabs of various types are served, but the beauty is – they are never the usual, and guessing what spices or flavourings are used is a tasty mystery. Desserts are incredible – Baklava like no other syrup-rich pastry I have ever eaten, with delicate rose petals and some chopped nuts. It’s so colourful, you want to dive right in!

Nandine’s is a winner – a journey she has made and for which customers benefit, and we hope she does too.

Written by Rafa Zurita for Luxuria Lifestyle London and International

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