20 Jan Just as much professional theatre as it is a place to dine
If you think Middle Eastern cuisine is all hummus, falafel and kebab, you’re going to need a lie-down and a cool compress by the time Nour is done with you
There’s a fantastical, cinematic element to Nour which starts charming you the moment you step off Crown Street and into the ballroom of pastel pink, soft-toned wood, splashes of light and a grand mirror that plays out a dramatic scene of open flames and acrobatic frypans from the kitchen opposite. Waiters confidently glide across the floor in a tempo that feels like it pulses throughout the whole room, all the way down to the movements of the chefs. This place is just as much professional theatre as it is a place to dine.
Here’s a fun challenge for you: try popping in to Nour for a quick meze without stumbling out three hours later, full to the eyeballs, having yielded to the menu’s seductive advances. The first hurdle you may hit is the eleven-strong cocktail list. Sceptics of arak, the popular anise-flavoured Levantine spirit, should order a fragrant-but-deadly Pommun, which skilfully knits the powerful aromas of lemon verbena, absinthe and apple together to showcase the firewater in a fresh light. Meanwhile, an Alfilfil enhances the Margarita framework with fennel, fresh chilli and a downright delicious spiced salt rim that’ll have you unashamedly licking the glass.
You may think that starting things off with a few innocuous-sounding fried cabbage skewers isn’t a big deal, but it is. Perfectly-formed blocks of charred and juicy cabbage layers arrive impaled on what appears to be a sultan’s letter opener, dressed to the nines in a harissa emulsion and rose petals. If all cabbage were this rich and tender, the world would be meat-free by next week.
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