After years of languishing in the tourist thoroughfare to Buckingham Palace and the coach station, Victoria is finally having its moment in the sun as a food destination, thanks to Nova.
The huge new food and drink complex is conveniently right opposite the station, and by August will boast 17 full size bars and restaurants (and a gym, for good measure.) We went down to check out of what's already open as guests on the Nova safari dinner.
We started off in Aussie-style Timmy Green, where we whet our appetites with some crunchy, deep fried calamari and courgette, and washed it down with the Fiveadaisy, a cocktail that manages to be equal parts saintly and delicious thanks to the combination of juiced spinach, cucumber, apple and activated charcoal, plus a shot of Belvedere vodka. There were plenty of sunny flavours to try, and we loved the juicy, smokey lamb cutlets, which went treat with some homemade chilli pesto, and the huge blob of creamy burrata with sundried tomatoes that followed.
The plate of crunchy, salty popcorn shrimp was worryingly moreish, especially with a fruity pineapple salsa.
From there, it was a quick hop to Aster, the Nordic-style restaurant with a stunning interior, where we tried some strips of rare duck, served with chewy roast seeds and honeyed raisins. We liked the Jersaluem artichoke, which had a good bite to it and came with an earthy malt crisp drizzled in tarragon oil.
After that, we went around the corner to Hai Cenato, Jason Atherton’s new, all-Italian joint, where we were plied with pizzas, salted cod arancini balls and fiendishly strong negronis (exactly as they should be).
The toppings didn’t disappoint either - a traditional pepperoni was re-imagined with piquant fennel sausage, prosciutto and straticcela cheese, while their riff on a classic Napoletana not only included juicy, pickled anchovies, but the welcome addition of Speck d’Aosta and harissa. Other pizzas had rich taleggio and chanterelles, while a Moroccan-inspired one with confit lamb neck, spiced aubergine and yoghurt.
Finally, fit to bursting, we waddled to pub, restaurant and sports lounge Greenwood, for dessert. There, we found room for oreo cheesecake, pear cobbler, and the Millionaire’s Shortbread-esque chocolate caramel tart - as well as a couple of punchy espresso martinis to round things off, made with spirits from their impressively huge collection.
There’s no doubt that there’s plenty happening at Nova. We only saw a small fraction of the many venues inside the huge complex - and believe us, it is ENORMOUS - and there's lots more still to come. There'll be a new branch from ramen kings Bone Daddies, Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa, Sticks n Sushi, Stoke House and the Rail House Cafe, the newest offering from the team behind the Riding House Cafe (and which was thrillingly close to being done when we visited).
For more on Nova, see the full list here.