80-81 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7TN Tel: 020 7820 8282 www.narrestaurant.com
Although close to Westminster and Victoria, Vauxhall on the south side of the Thames has a very different feel from that of its neighbours, but is an area with plenty going on. Diagonally opposite Vauxhall Cross, the home of some of our faceless Civil Servants, you will find Nar Restaurant and Bar, occupying two of the railway arches on the Albert Embankment. This new establishment has a menu offering choices of authentic Turkish and Italian cuisines, not some kind of fusion idea, the dishes are distinct and separately listed on the menu. The restaurant half of the establishment is a big space, decorated in a Turkish style, but moderately so, with an overall feeling of airiness and space.
Thinking that starters might be small, tapas-style dishes, we decided to share three of these between us, but they turned out to be mighty plates of food. Mucver, deep fried patties comprised of courgette, with dill, spring onion, red pepper, feta and egg, were both tasty and had a good texture, these were accompanied by a creamy Cacik, yoghurt with chopped cucumber, mint, garlic and olive oil, supporting them well. Icli Kofte, bulgur wheat balls stuffed with minced meat, nuts, onions, herbs and spices, were crispy on the outside, with a tender filling and had excellent depth of flavour. Arnavut Cigeri (lambs liver floured and fried in olive oil) was cooked through, but had a pinkness and was tender, the richness of the liver was offset well by the accompanying red onion salad.
On to mains, and again we decided to share two dishes. After the substantial starters, one would have been sufficient, but we rose to the challenge. The mixed grill of lamb kofte and chicken kofte, lamb cutlet, chicken shish and lamb shish was served with rice and salad. The meat was uniformly excellent, great flavours each piece tender, juicy and beautifully cooked. The substantial portions of rice and salad offered a welcome contrast to the meat. Karides, pan fried king prawns, marinated with garlic and white wine and served with a mushroom risotto, were fabulous, the prawns perfectly cooked and packed with flavour. The risotto was also splendid, moist but not pudding like with an excellent mushroom flavour that complimented the prawns really well.
At this point having a dessert was touch-and-go, but we decided to share a portion of chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream. The cake was delicious, dark, shiny and glossy with an intense chocolate hit, the ice cream rich and full of vanilla flavour.
Nar has a good wine list, with prices ranging upwards from about £12 a bottle. There is also a selection of wines by the glass. We tried the house white and the house red: both good wines, the white fresh and zingy with some body, the red again with good body had a nice softness to it and was quite delicious. Service was charming, attentive but not overwhelmingly so, and the atmosphere was relaxed and comfortable. The bar also offers a range of cocktails that are reasonably priced, the bar area mirrors the décor in the restaurant and has a great open feel to it. Nar certainly is offering something a little different, delivering great food, it is well worth the trip to Vauxhall to sample it.