karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
Ozzy ([personal profile] karohemd) wrote2011-04-22 05:29 pm

[Dining] NOPI, Warwick St., London

After the gig I braved London transport towards Soho to have dinner at NOPI, Yotam Ottolenghi's new restaurant which I'd heard good things about. I'm a huge fan of the ottolenghi deli/bistro in Islington so I was looking forward to it. I'd booked a seat downstairs on one of the high, communal tables (you sit on bar stools) next to the open kitchen and, bizarrely, the kitchen's storage shelves (mostly dry goods, bottles and packs but also a few fresh veg like artichokes). This photo from the website illustrates it quite well, I was sitting at the right hand table at the bottom of the photo, second chair from the left.
There are no starters or mains as such, all the dishes on the menu are the same size and are meant for sharing (a bit like tapas, in a way), with a reasonable variety of vegetarian (not surprising considering the creator), fish/seafood and meat dishes and a selection of desserts.

I'd ordered the octopus and asparagus dishes to start with and the octopus arrived first. It was served with two flavourful sauces, fresh herbs and a disc of dark grains I couldn't identify (and didn't remember from the menu, it's not in the one on the website). The octopus was the most tender I've had anywhere, very impressive and the sauces harmonised wonderful with it.

The perfectly griddled, fresh asparagus was served on romesco sauce with roasted slivers of almonds. I usually like asparagus as simple as possible but the romesco wasn't overpowering at all. A very tasty dish.

Then I ordered another recommended dish, the veal carpaccio which was served with sliced beetroot, fresh herbs and kashk. This was my favourite and absolutely stunning. The paper-thin slices of rose veal melted on your tongue while the beetroot provided a crunchy texture. The soft kashk was a wonderful addition.

I really fancied some dessert so went for the chocolate mousse with peanut brittle, mace and creme fraiche. The mousse was rich, soft and bitter, the brittle crunchy and sweet and the creme fraiche bound everything together. Very nice indeed.

NOPI - Asparagus with romesco NOPI- Rose Veal Carpaccio NOPI - chocolate, peanut brittle

NOPI - Asparagus with romesco

NOPI- Rose Veal Carpaccio

NOPI - chocolate, peanut brittle
Sorry, no photo of the octopus dish, I simply forgot. :( I also didn't take a photo into the kitchen as it wasn't possible from my seat and it was rather busy with people coming and going when I left (there isn't much room) so I didn't want to hold up others.

Service was friendly but a bit hit and miss in terms of delivery. The octopus arrived quickly but some extra bread I ordered took over ten minutes to arrive and the couple next to me were well into their second dish until they were served their wine. Of course, the place was packed but there were enough staff bustling about that a more timely service shouldn't have been a problem.
Another slightly negative point are the prices. The average is about £10 per dish and you really need three (as suggested) to be satisfied and you will have room for dessert. Yes, it's central London but it's not exactly fine dining. Even more exaggerated are the drinks, I paid £7.50 for one glass of Grüner Veltliner, an excellent but cheap as chips Austrian white (back in Germany you'd pay €3 for a 1l bottle in retail).

Still, I'm glad I went because the food was great and the place has a good atmosphere, at least downstairs. As I was on my own, it was great to occasionally chat to the other diners comparing tasting notes. The upstairs (street level) is more formal with normal sized tables so if you prefer a more private setting, this is for you.