My godmother was over from New York last week, so when it came to choosing a great place to go for lunch, suitable for me as a sort-of vegetarian, NOPI immediately sprang to mind. It’s one of my favourite restaurants in London, is great for veggies, and I felt it would also demonstrate the quality of food available in London – our city definitely challenges New York’s alleged food supremacy in my opinion!
NOPI is a more formal version of Yotam Ottolenghi’s eponymous deli-cafés, famous for their Israeli and Mediterranean-inspired cooking, and their patisserie. NOPI is shiny and gold, and has a bathroom that makes you feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland as it’s tricky to find the way out! On entering the main restaurant, you come face-to-face with a large table piled high with breads and brightly-coloured, delicious-looking salads; it’s the sort of place where everything looks and sounds so fantastic that you want to order a range of dishes and share them, so that’s what we did.
We decided to start with the Vegetable Crudités with Avocado Yoghurt while we waited for the rest of our order:
What arrived was a small bowl of bright, crunchy vegetables (carrots, cucumber, lettuce, beetroot and two types of radish), and the most delicious, creamy avocado yoghurt sprinkled with black sesame seeds.
Next up were the Courgette and Manouri Fritters:
These arrived plump and warm, and were served with cardamom yoghurt and half a lime, which we squeezed liberally over the fritters. The lime is an excellent addition, adding a sharpness to the creamy yoghurt and complimenting the manouri beautifully. These fritters are one of my favourite things on the menu: perfectly crisp on the outside, light and yet bursting with a delicious filling.
Then we moved onto the dishes we’d ordered from the Vegetable section of the menu.
Roasted Aubergine with Lemon Chilli Feta, Peppers and Pistachios:
I love aubergine, and this was melt-in-the-mouth delicious, with the pistachios providing a crunchy counterpart to the creamy cheese and beautifully roasted aubergine.
We also had the French Beans, Sugar Snaps and Yellow Mustard Seeds:
This came with an oriental inspired dressing and a large handful of sesame seeds.
We also had the Roasted Sweet Potato, which came with Burnt Aubergine Yoghurt, Basil and Maple Roasted Seeds:
I hadn’t tried this before, and it might have been the best thing I tried that day. Everyone knows that sweet potato and maple syrup go together, and the crunchy seeds added another texture to the dish, but it was the burnt aubergine yoghurt – rich and smoky – that really brought the dish together, balancing the sweetness of the other ingredients on the plate.
The final dish was the only disappointment. We ordered the Mackerel with Cucumber Gazpacho and Salsify:
I loved the vibrant green of the soup, the fish was perfectly grilled, and there were some interesting, crisp additions, (though the piled-high presentation seems a bit lax for Ottolenghi), but I wondered what the salsify was bringing to the dish, and there was certainly nothing exciting about it’s preparation or cooking.
The vegetable dishes come in at around £9 each and the mackerel was £11.50. This meant that the bill – which included one glass of wine – came to £35 each, reasonable given the Regent Street location, and for food of this standard. However, my advice would be to stick to the Vegetable section of the menu!
Categories: Food & Drink