Review: Nest, Shoreditch

Flying high on its success, the Hackney hotspot has migrated south

Much-loved neighbourhood restaurant Nest found a new perch in October this year – after a six year stint on Hackney’s Morning Lane it has flown south and migrated to a brand-new home on Old Street, in the heart of trendy Shoreditch. With the move comes a more mature and accommodating 24-seater dining space, designed with a stripped back, industrial chic aesthetic.

Nest’s focus in on exceptional seasonal British produce, and when we visit in October, the menu has a game focus. I’ve never considered myself a particular fan of game, but then I’ve never experienced it cooked well by somebody who knows what they’re doing – I’m keen to give it another go in the hands of professionals. An à la carte menu is available here at lunchtime, but we visit as the day is drawing in, for a set menu with snacks and paired wine.

Nest Shoreditch Review

The snug and atmospheric space is furnished with rustic wooden benches and small, candlelit tables, all offering a view of the open kitchen, where we can see the chefs hard at work. It really is a special setting: one that puts us in a good mood for good food – and that’s exactly what we get.

The menu, delivered to the table when we arrive, is sealed with a wax-stamp, giving us the option to keep its contents a mystery until the dishes are presented. It’s an invitation we are only too happy to accept – putting our trust in the skill of the kitchen team.


Nest Shoreditch Review Grouse Tea Grouse Tea at Nest

Co-founders Luke Wasserman, Toby Neill and Johnnie Crowe are passionate about the sourcing of their ingredients, with menus driven by the seasons. Working together with the best local suppliers and small-scale farmers – think Alternative Meats, Shrub Provisions and Keltic Seafare – they ensure that only the best available ingredients are used. With an ethical, sustainable, and quality approach, Nest is actively lowering its carbon footprint whilst showcasing the UK’s very best farm-to-plate cooking.

From small plates to larger dishes, each of our nine courses is served with passion and knowledge. To whet the appetite we tuck into homemade soda bread served with smoky and salty cultured butter. Dishes like the game liver parfait bomb and mixed game bird faggot (comprising partridge, mallard and grouse), showcase the team’s ‘use all’ approach to cooking, which is elegant, inventive, and full of flavour. It’s not all meat, though, you’ll find the menu sprinkled with lighter detours such as the meltin- the-mouth three-day dried trout, cooked skin side down to create delicate fish crackling – it is a deliciously palate cleansing dish. Particular mention goes to the unique and genius grouse tea, poured from a glass teapot; the ultimate way to warm the cockles.

A short but specialist wine pairing has been curated by an expert sommelier who has worked exclusively with small, low-intervention wineries from Austria. He clearly knows what he is doing – we turn our noses up at one suggestion, but when paired with barbecued Yorkshire grouse, accompanied by last of the season sweetcorn and a dashing of delicious raspberry-infused jus, it is smooth and sublime. We finish off with Ashcombe cheese, named for the striking horizontal line of wood ash running through its centre, and homemade Bakewell tart with a exquisitely light and moreish raspberry doughnut.

If there’s one thing I’ll remember our wonderful evening at Nest for – beyond the expertly chosen wines and euphoric dishes – it’s the staff, who are in equal parts personable, attentive, and knowledgeable.

After our meal, I roll out onto the streets of London on the crest of a particularly acute postdinner high – singing the praises of everything from the edibles to the atmosphere. With an ever-evolving menu that divides the year into different seasons, I will need no excuse to book a return visit.