nandine camberwell

Review: Nandine, Camberwell

Review: Nandine, Camberwell

Understated charm and uber-delicious food.

My companion and I arrived in Camberwell at brunchtime, sun high in the sky. Nandine wasn’t exactly busy yet – but it was buzzing (and thankfully, not scorching hot for brunch al fresco). Sunny, quaint and lively – all wood and painted brick walls – it really looked like a perfect, if a tad unassuming, place to tuck in Saturday brunch. 

Nandine has a moving story behind its creation, back in 2016: the founder Pary Baban first arrived in the UK from Kurdistan in 1995 after being displaced from her home under the rule of Saddam Hussein. She travelled through different parts of the region and finally created a diary of the amazing variety of Kurdish food and different cooking techniques. She still uses this diary in her kitchen today.  

I went for the Kurdish Breakfast accompanied by a tea-based punch – the dish far more creative than the name. Two types of cheese, honeycomb, tahini syrup and a fresh ‘shepherd’s salad’. All in all, a mouth-watering combo of sweet and savoury, and wonderfully colourful too. My friend opted for Basirlmay Bayenjan in its vegan glory – slow-cooked aubergine and chickpeas in a rich tomato sauce served with copious amounts of delicious, fresh-out-of-the-oven bread.  

The portions are generous but do try save some space for the dessert. We let ourselves go a tiny bit and I can hardly recall anything in my life I’d regret less. The baklava was as good as it gets – sweet, crispy crowns of filo pastry drenched in honey and sugar syrup and adorned with crushed rose petals, they were absolutely perfect: not too hard, not too soft, not too chewy and not too flaky. Just. Ideal. Belachuck – candied butternut squash served with ice cream – is a unique idea and literally melted in the mouth. And the halvas were heavenly.  

There really were no flaws (the cocktail could have been bigger? If it sounds like grasping on straws, it’s because it is). Pary Baban and her crew know how to tell their story on a plate. And it doesn’t even cost a fortune. Just – go – and give it a try.  

 All images credit: Nic Crilly-Hargrave