After going veggie last year, I quickly discovered a chef called Yotam Ottolenghi. His recipes aren’t particularly simple — they usually take in a variety of exotic ingredients and require some preparation, but the resulting dishes offer such clean, simple and fresh flavours that his books soon became culinary bibles in my home.
Ottolenghi has a few eateries around London, but they are bustling cafeteria-style affairs where you usually have to queue in order to get a seat at the long, shared tables. They are also dotted around London’s boroughs, including Notting Hill, Kensington, Belgravia and Islington. Nopi a more restaurant-style experience located smack bang in central London’s Soho district.
My wife and I took advantage of a 50% opening discount and headed down to sample Ottolenghi’s latest gastronomical delights. Diners are encouraged to order three plates of food per person, with plates costing between £7-£12 each. The idea is to sample lots of different dishes and share them around — a model not entirely dissimilar to the excellent Polpo, located just around the corner.
The menu was great, bustling with dishes that we’d not seen elsewhere, while also boasting the sublime mix of flavours we’ve come to expect from the chef. The baked blu di pecora cheesecake was a particular highlight for us veggies, while the burrata (creamy mozzarella) was complemented by blood orange and a plentiful supply of the house’s lovely artisan breads. Both dishes are pictured below.
While my wife and I are pescatarian and vegetarian respectively, there’s an equal split of meat, fish and vegetable dishes on the menu. It’s likely that three mains will leave you stuffed, but try to leave room for dessert. My churros and hot chocolate were as good as I’d experienced in Barcelona and the addition of fennel seed sugar was sublime, while Petah’s rice pudding (pictured below) with pistachio, rose syrup and cardamom was absolutely delicious.
The restaurant itself is typical Soho by design — architect Alex Meitlis has created a spacious dining area surrounded by clean white brickwork, industrial-looking air vents and grand brass fittings. We’d read on Ottolenghi’s blog that the staff were feeling over worked during opening week, but they were were friendly and attentive during our experience.
Our total bill for five main dishes, two desserts, two glasses of Prosecco and a coffee was £43 including service charge — a steal, given the quality of the food and service. However, it will no doubt be more of a ‘treat’ destination when the introductory offer ends next week. My recommendation? Get in there quick, and sample one of London’s best new restaurants before everyone else.