I had high expectations for Nopi, after all it is one of the restaurants of the much talked-about chef Yotam Ottolenghi. It had been on my bucket list for a while.
As you arrive, the ambience is relaxed with the clean white walls softened by the mellow lighting. The staff were polite and efficient but not especially warm.
The menu is very interesting and quite short, which is something I like, ‘do less things and do them well’ is my kind of philosophy.
With our unconventional, delicious and incredibly sour cocktails we had bread and olive oil brought to the table. Coming from a country where olive oil is very important I often judge the quality of restaurant by the olive oil they serve with their bread. This one was fantastic, light and very floral, as it should be, and not one hint of acidity. Only nag was that it came in a tiny bowl and so it dried out after 3 or 4 dips. Not that you couldn’t ask for more, but it may be worth serving the oil in slightly bigger bowls to avoid this.
The starter dishes are on the small size and you end up asking for loads, but this suits me well as I like to pick from different flavours and textures. The highlights were the pig cheeks and the Valdeón cheesecake with beetroot, toasted hazelnuts and honey – scrumptious!
Not as noteworthy were the cod and chicken dishes, I would probably choose something else next time. The dessert was lovely, if only a little simple (I had the caramel and roasted peanut ice cream with chocolate sauce and peanut brittle, which somehow doesn’t scream Middle-Eastern, but was really good).
For an unexpected adventure, make sure you visit the toilets!
Overall, the whole Nopi feel is very chilled, unpretentious and pleasant and the food is good. Some dishes are worth talking about while others less. However, part of the reason I wasn’t eating some of the most exciting dishes was that I as with my fussiest of friends and we were sharing. I would like to be back and give that unusual menu another chance. And I still want to try the other Ottolenghi venues. I guess that says something. His food is very interesting.
Where: London, Soho
Cuisine: Modern Middle-Eastern inspired
Occasion: Breakfast, lunch or dinner
Rating: 4 stars
Would I go again? Potentially