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Dinner Date: Nessa review, a culinary celebration of Soho’s Bohemian movement

Nessa weaves a bohemian tapestry of gastronomic delights and elegant design in the vibrant pulse of London's creative heart

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Nessa’s emergence in Soho signals a fresh gust in London’s ever-evolving culinary winds. Brought to life by Maslow’s founder Guy Ivesha, and shaped by the culinary insights of Executive Chef Tom Cenci, formerly of Duck & Waffle, Nessa seamlessly integrates into Soho’s eclectic charm, offering a dining rendezvous that’s rich in history and flavour.

Located at the junction of Brewer, Glasshouse, and Warwick streets, Nessa gracefully occupies a renovated 1910 neo-baroque building on the ground floor of the new 1 Warwick members’ house. The meticulous design by Fettle pays homage to the Maslow’s group’s distinct charm and the building’s architectural grandeur. The interiors are a nod to Soho’s vibrant past, intertwined with Edwardian baroque hints. The space is divided into a cosy bar area and an ambient dining space. The bar, with its horseshoe design, invites guests to lounge amidst mid-century modern vintage furniture, artworks, and a symphony of textures. Progressing to the dining area, one is greeted by brushed oak, arabescato corchia marble, and banquette seating, all underlining an intimate dining atmosphere.

The Bat at Nessa | Simon Brown
The Bat at Nessa | Simon Brown

Upon entering Nessa’s bar, one is immediately transported into a world of elegance. My mocktail selection, the Light Spritz—crafted with Pentire Coastal Spritz, London Essence blood orange & elderflower tonic, and berry syrup—stood out with its delightful sweetness, a relief for someone like me who often finds traditional spritzes a tad too bitter. On the other hand, my date chose an alcoholic cocktail, the Honeyed Nail, a harmonious blend highlighting honey’s sweetness, juxtaposed with a kick from fresh ginger and blended Scotch.

Our waiter for the evening, Pasquale, who provided an excellent service, anticipated our palates’ desires, presenting a plate of cheese & onion croquettes to accompany our cocktails. Crispy golden on the outside, they melted in a burst of rich, gooey flavours on the inside, perfectly complemented by a purple grape mustard mayo. Needless to say, they were gone in moments.

The aged beef tartare, enhanced with a spicy hint of Tabasco, undoubtedly crowned itself as the star of the starters.

The bar at Nessa (Simon Brown) | Light Spritz mocktail (David Robson)

As we settled at our table in the dining space, we were first met with the smoked salmon crudo, a vibrant medley of citrus, olive, and mint. The thinly sliced salmon sashimi, paired with juicy orange slices, was a promise of the summer season. However, it was the aged beef tartare, elegantly poised on beef fat charred sourdough, that truly commanded attention. Our waiter presented us with a bottle of Tabasco, suggesting a hint to elevate the dish further. A few drops later, the tartare transformed, unveiling spicy undertones that completely captivated our taste buds. Indeed, the aged beef tartare, enhanced with that spicy hint, undoubtedly crowned itself as the star of the starters.

Accompanying our dinner was a 2022 Loimer, an Austrian white wine that pleasantly surprised with its refreshing aromas of green apple and subtle undertones of lemon cake. On the palate, it was beautifully bone-dry, characterised by vibrant citrus peel and toasty notes. What made it stand out was its subtle minerality and the crisp acidity, creating an impeccable harmony with the dishes.

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smoked salmon crudo at nessa
Smoked Salmon Crudo | Justin De Souza

Moving on to the mains from Nessa’s all day menu, my Italian roots had me initially hesitant about the celeriac carbonara, as I’m typically wary of non-traditional versions. Under Pasquale’s enthusiastic recommendation, I took the plunge. With its pancetta, confit egg, hint of truffle, and Spenwood cheese, it was a revelation. The grilled seabass, boasting crispy skin and tender meat, was accented beautifully with fennel and orange. After this and the earlier salmon, which also came with orange slices, I decided I’m never having fish again without the fruit.

To round off our mains, we enjoyed a heritage tomato panzanella salad. With black pepper croutons and a spicy kick, it was a nostalgic nod to the Southern Italian summers of my childhood, perfectly complementing both dishes.

The dining space at Nessa (Simon Brown) | Celeriac Carbonara (Justin De Souza)

As our evening journeyed towards its sweet conclusion, the carrot cake took the stage. It was a masterpiece: moist to perfection and generously crowned with an ultra-delicious cream cheese frosting. The caramelised pecans scattered atop added not just a delightful crunch but a rich nuttiness, enhancing the cake’s overall depth and allure.

To accompany this dessert decadence, we were presented with two glasses of the Noble Riesling Marlborough wine. This choice was inspired; the wine’s aromatic notes of lime blossom, apricot, and honeydew melon beautifully paired our dessert.

The culmination of our visit was marked by an excellent service with unwavering attention to detail, reinforcing Nessa’s dedication to serving more than just a meal.

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It’s worth noting that Nessa also boasts a breakfast menu that could easily turn it into a beloved brunch spot for many. With offerings ranging from the malt pancake, strawberries, creme fraiche and maple syrup, to the Nessa sausage and egg muffin with hot sauce and American cheese, the morning menu promises a splendid start to any day.

Sausage Muffin at Nessa
Sausage Muffin | Justin De Souza

In the bustling culinary tapestry of London, Nessa establishes its distinct signature with a perfect blend of Guy Ivesha’s vision, Tom Cenci’s culinary acumen, and the vibrant spirit of Soho. The culmination of our visit was marked by an excellent service with unwavering attention to detail, reinforcing Nessa’s dedication to serving more than just a meal.

As the city witnesses new dining spaces sprouting regularly, Nessa’s poised to illuminate Soho’s dining canvas with its exceptional culinary tales and ambient charm.

Address: 86 Brewer Street, London, W1F 9UB
Website: nessasoho.com

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