Posted on Monday, 13th June 2011
Nopi is the latest venture by wonderchef Yotam Ottolenghi of Ottolenghi fame. His Mediterranean/Middle Eastern/Asian inspired food is divine, and his deft handling and matching of wonderfully fresh produce makes even the simplest ingredients seem sexy. And gosh, can Ottolenghi bake. The delectable selection of baked goods on display in his stores is utterly irresistible, and I can NEVER ever resist tucking into one.
After having eaten at Ottolenghi, I was certain that Nopi would be every bit as good. Nopi, with its two storeys, is much bigger than his only other eat-in restaurant, Ottolenghi in Islington. The basement space advocates a shared seating arrangement (a common Ottolenghi theme), and is extremely inviting with its display of dry goods set amongst a white tile backdrop and a view of the kitchen – its almost as if you’re eating in someone’s home. By contrast, the main restaurant area upstairs is more rustic with its wooden décor. The basement toilets are an eyesore however with its mirrored walls.
As at Ottolenghi, the menu at Nopi is designed for sharing and the restaurant suggests that diners choose 3 dishes per person. A dish of seared scallops (£12) was simply beautiful – wonderfully browned and moist in the middle. It was served with pickled daikon and green apple, and the contrast between the sweet and sour was a winning formula.
A version of the Moroccan pastilla dish, made with rabbit instead of pigeon, had a succulent and moist centre. The pastry, being light and flaky was superb. The sweetness of the pastilla was well judged and it wasn’t too cinnamon-y.
Roasted beef sirloin (£12) came with baby fennel, parmesan and aromatic truffle oil. The beef was tender albeit a little peppery, but it was the combination of the crunchy freshness of the fennel, offset by the bite of the parmesan and earthiness of the oil which won me over.
A serving of grilled mackerel (£10) was fresh although the skin could have been a touch crispier. The fish was accompanied by a hypnotic combination of smoked labneh – resplendent for its smokiness – creamy red lentils and fresh aromatic mint.
I also lapped up the desserts. Lots of lovely bite sized pieces of coffee pecan financiers (£6.50) were served with a scrumptious maple cream. The cakes were crunchy on the outside and soft, warm and buttery on the inside.
The natural sweetness of the pineapple in a pineapple galette (£7.50) shone through, as did the flaky brilliant qualities of the puff pastry that it was perched on. It came with a pandan and coconut ice cream that worked well with the pineapple.
A kaffir lime, meringue, tapioca and mango pudding (£6.50) was a contrast in textural delights. The crunchiness of the meringue merged beautifully with the creaminess of the zingy sweet mango purée and the tapioca.
Scoops of roasted hazelnut and chocolate ice-cream (£6.50) were served with an indulgent warm chocolate sauce. The ice-cream was rich and creamy, and the bits of roasted hazelnuts added a real spark to the hazelnut ice-cream.
Gosh this meal was good! It sparkled with the freshness of the produce, and wowed with the combination of various exotic ingredients. Everything was cooked in a simplistic, almost unassuming way which makes the experience all the more special. Nopi is a great place and not to be missed. I promise you that you will also be impressed.
Food rating: 4/5
Service rating: 3.5/5
Price range: About £40 for three dishes and a dessert. Excludes drinks and service.