NAC stands for North Audley Canteen and as the name reveals it’s the perfect cosy place for a light food stop, away from the Oxford st frenzy. The glitz, the Arabs and the middle eastern vibe though lingers, even throughout the NY-style exposed brick walls of this trendy spot.
We met last week at NAC for a friends dinner as a lot had been said about its hearty menu and the odd specials such as the melty Mac & cheese and the meaty truffle burger. As we walked in, we took note of the young, mostly Arab-French origin crowd that had more or less escaped from their shopping spree (think Selfridge’s) on a school-night. The service staff was cheerful and attentive, moving us to a bigger table as we wanted to avoid that NY vibe where you rub shoulders and share convos with your neighbors. The bar stacked with all sorts of cocktails (and dreams) was also full of patrons as well as the space downstairs which is a bit more private and intimate albeit next to the kitchen and toilets.
Away we started picking on the menu and got overjoyed by the heartiness and plentifulness of the med-inspired ingredients – great starters included caramelised aubergine, kale and raisin salad, some (overfried) pop corn shrimps and a hearty burrata. The Mac and cheese was full of flavour (and to some extent quite runny for my liking) and did the trick.
As the night went on, we did some people watching, commented on the odd French couples that were graciously ducking out for a smoke and carried on the food-related discussions keeping the cocktails coming. The main courses arrived and we were in for a treat: this is where the real fun began. Most of us opted for the truffle burger and one of us got the red pesto sea bass. Needless to say what you’d need to order when you also visit NAC. And you must do so the soonest possible, especially if you’re into burgers.
The brioche bun, although thick at first glance, is just about the right amount of dough to wrap the juicy truffle burger -medium in cooking- and some condiments on the side to add some more moist and runny feel to it. We chose some avocado, a touch of ketchup sauce and a tad of mayo. Well done, well done. A burger that speaks to the heart of meat fans and is just about the right amount of serving – no more, no less.
The desserts rank also high at NAC, with our favourite being the playful Milk chocolate cookies served on a Frosties soft ice cream… oh yeah, tribute to the young teens (that have passed for some of us and that represent quite a hefty share of NAC’s crowd).
All in all a really nice experience, although we can’t wait to get back and try their brunch instead. If there’s also some magic in that, as well as their star burger then NAC certainly will permanently be put on our London map.