In 2011, the great Ottolenghi branched out from his delis and cookbooks by opening an upmarket, contemporary restaurant. He named it NOPI.
Yotam Ottolenghi is known for his creative recipes with bold flavours, interesting ingredients and a strong Middle-Eastern and Asian influence. NOPI perfectly represents his unique approach to food.
If you’re not a die-hard Ottolenghi fan, perhaps you will be drawn into NOPI by its stunning appearance. White décor, marble floors, shiny gold light fittings, dimmed lighting (hence the poor quality photos) and soft music all make up the glamorous and relaxing ambience. As if it’s not inviting enough, right by the entrance is a table covered in bright flowers and beautifully presented dishes – an advance notice of what’s to come.
At this point, I’ve got to mention the restrooms. They were one of many surprises throughout the meal. The room is made up of angular walls covered in mirrors with gold trimmings and a totally necessary exit sign or you would struggle to find your way out. They’re fun, stylish and bound to be a talking point round the table. (Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a photo of them.)
The dinner menu offers a choice of smaller sharing plates, main dishes and nibbles. Naturally, we got a selection of each. NOPI caters perfectly for vegetarians, food intolerances and those brave enough to try out Ottolenghi’s infamously unusual combinations. There’s also a diverse range of wines and interesting cocktails.
Of the sharing plates, my favourites included courgette and manouri fritters and sweet potato with burnt aubergine yoghurt and pomegranate seeds. The winning main dish was the seared tuna with bagna cauda and broccoli and the side of roasted okra with chilli, maple, coriander and toasted buckwheat was simply delicious.
The meal was full of ‘wow factor’ moments – including when what looked like a plain piece of fish turned into a garnished and vibrant dish:
Finally, we ordered the chocolate and orange oil dessert. With hidden popping candy, this was a great way to finish off a meal full of the unexpected.
Overall, this was a different and delicious experience. My only fault would be the slightly limited choice of main courses and the downstairs seating area which is made up of large communal tables and fails to share the buzzy atmosphere of the ground floor.
The slightly small portions with slightly big price tags may be a turn-off for some, but if you’re up for trying something new, head to NOPI – even if it’s just to check out the toilets!