I totally love Ottolenghi – the cookbooks, the cafes, the whole concept. The website says ‘our food is familiar and straight forward, yet highly innovative’ and I don’t think I could describe it better. The dishes tend to be mediterranean influenced with a middle eastern twist. They are always fresh and colourful with an emphasis on interesting textures and bold flavours.
They really go to town when it comes to salads. You might think salad is boring but they’re the polar opposite when done the Ottolenghi way! One of my all time favourites for a summer bbq is from the first cookbook, a delicious mixture of halloumi, asparagus, courgette, rocket, slow cooked tomatoes and basil oil. Totally scrummy. The focus on salads is obvious from the cafe menus, you are invited to choose a selection or 2 or 3 salads to go with a piece of meat, fish or a pastry and it’s not at all frowned upon to just go for the salad. If you haven’t been, you absolutely must! It will set you back a good £20 – £25 per head if you go for the full works with desert but it’s well worth it as a weekend treat.
I digress, this review is supposed to be about Ottolenghi’s new restaurant Nopi and so far I haven’t even mentioned it. You get the picture though, I love love love Ottolenghi!
Therefore, as I’m sure you can imagine, I was really rather excited to hear about the opening of Nopi. It’s the first full scale restaurant and, as an added bonus, it serves small plates – one of my favourite concepts as I like to try as much a possible.
It opened in February this year and as the reviews started to come out I was eager to see what they had to say. I was a little disappointed to see that they were quite mixed but I wasn’t going to let that put me off.
One bonus of Nopi is that you can book a table, a service sadly not available at the Ottolenghi cafe. There is an option of upstairs, the more formal dining area and downstairs, two big sharing tables with views into the kitchen. I went for the latter. The tables seat about 16 people but because we had a late booking on a Sunday there were plenty of free seats. It was great being able to see the chefs at work and being surrounded by the store cupboard full of veggies and jars of exciting goodies.
The menu is split into sections, veg, meat, fish and sweets. There are about 6 options in each, plus specials. I would have happily eaten just about anything that was on offer, it all sounded great.
It recommends 3 dishes per person, although our waiter suggested two in order to leave room for pudding. I reckon 5 dishes between 2 is probably enough if you want desert as well but you can never have too many can you?!
Below are a selection of the lovely things that I tried. They were all delicious but my favourites were the gurnard and the baby chicken. Both 10/10 – I am still thinking about them now!!
The signature dish – twice cooked baby chicken with lemon myrtle salt and chilli sauce.
Courgette and manouri fritters with lime yoghurt.
Seared prawns with fennel, white oregano and feta.
Spiced gurnard wrapped in banana leaf with pineapple sambal.
Chargrilled octopus with salmorejo sauce and morcilla.
Chocolate hazelnut slice with mahlab and cherries.
Caramel and roasted peanut ice cream with chocolate sauce.
I can also recommend the house white wine, it was a variety that I had never heard of before (and I now can’t remember what it was called) but it was lovely. Not the sort that I would usually go for as it was quite floral but try it, you might like it.
I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at Nopi and would have liked to try more. A solid 9/10 for tastiness and the service was really wonderful, we loved our waiter. The only downside is that it aint cheap, you are looking at a good £50 a head and I can imagine certain men I know complaining that they need a kebab on the way home!
I really should also give the toilets a mention. They are without a doubt the most crazy toilets I have ever been to. The entire things is a prism of mirrors, both inside and outside the cubicles. It’s pretty cool but if you don’t want to know if your bum looks big in this, then I advise that you cross your legs!
PLEASE NOT THAT ANY ADVERTS APPEARING ON THIS BLOG HAVE BEEN PUT HERE BY WORDPRESS AND NOT BY ME