Chef Nelly Robinson tells a story with every degustation. And Nelly’s latest, the Great British Menu, brings the UK to Sydney’s doorstep with a bill of fare that would make any Brit or British afficionadi weep with joy. At a time when international travel to the UK is not possible, the Great British Menu will delight travellers and food connoisseurs alike. Rich with memories of the mother country, the team at nel. launched their latest 11-course degustation on 6 April 2021, centred on their British homeland where the head chef, restaurant manager and Nelly himself all hail from.
The Great British Menu runs for nel.’s typical 10-week period, at this degustation-only restaurant, finishing on Saturday 26 June. Each of the 11 courses is brilliantly curated to evoke memories of a once-upon-a-time trip to Britain. As Nelly says ‘we’re bringing the UK to you. Well, the food anyway, hopefully not the weather!’ The menu showcases quintessential pub food with a unique fine dining twist that only nel.’s can do.
Browse the menu and memories flood. Fish & Chips, better known as a chippy tea, take diners to the British seaside with triple cooked chips and red spot whiting. Pork Pie and Coleman’s – it wouldn’t be British without this classic combination – is followed by another ‘fave,’ Teacake & Yorkshire Tea Butter. In Nelly’s words ‘it’s worth a butchers’ (for the novice: Cockney rhyming slang for ‘look’). The Fishcake course challenges all the senses with fishcake, smoked salmon, prawn, chive lime, caviar and lobster foam; aligning with nel.’s maxim, ‘we create menus that make magical moments for our customers’.
The British sense of humour is evident with the dessert courses: Jam Roly Poly; Crunchie; and Bakewell Tart. The Crunchie course will delight everyone’s inner child. A crunchie bar piped onto the plate via a spaghetti mould. Perfect with perhaps a cuppa English tea (on the menu of course). If diners wish for a drink that’s ‘proper posh’ the menu is paired with cocktails such as ‘A Bear Called Paddington’ – Poor Tom’s Gin, Marmalade, Butter syrup, Lemon, Toast Corner Garnish. A cracking way to say cheers to everything we miss about Britain.
Chef Nelly is the maestro behind nel. Very much in touch with his inner child, Nelly loves nothing more than watching dumbfounded, curious, then excited faces when each course arrives at a table. ‘We like to play with people’s mind a bit…I think they have three or four minutes of uncomfortableness.’ As a child Nelly loved animated movies and Disney. His menus have paid tribute to many of his favourite characters and scenes.
Nelly began his career at age 14 as a kitchen hand at Michelin-starred restaurant Northcote Manor in his native UK. By 15 he started an apprenticeship, the first at this restaurant, under chef Nigel Haworth and his team (including Warrick Dodds and Mark Birchall).
Nelly then worked at other Michelin star restaurants in the UK and abroad before he landed in Sydney, aged 29, and opening nel. Since then, he has excited Sydneysiders’ tastebuds with memory-driven, contemporary interpretations of global cuisine. Nelly explains via his website, ‘memory is the main thing I use for creating…we create menus that make magical moments for our customers…making people’s memories come alive.’ Nelly’s attention to detail, creative flair and guest interaction have earned him a loyal following of Sydneysiders, interstate and international guests.
Nelly has been invited to cook as a special guest at many Australian and international events: an exclusive dinner and masterclass at Vinum restaurant in Huvafen Fushi, the Maldives; Obsession 18 (UK); Taste of Sydney; former chef to Cate Blanchett, David Beckham and U2; and for dignitaries at the British High Commission Canberra, to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday. Under Nelly’s leadership, nel. has also received an impressive list of culinary awards.
With international arrivals halted for the moment, Nelly and his latest degustation, the Great British Menu, have transported the United Kingdom to Australia.