Posts for the 'Mediterranean' Category

Nopi – Visit No. 2


Nopi opened in Soho in 2010 to a great reception, and rightly so. It was an extension of the Ottolenghi chain of delis by Yotam Ottolenghi who is famous for his uniquely innovative blend of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Asian cooking. Nopi gave Ottolenghi a presence in Soho, but it also made his delightful food accessible to a wilder audience.

I visited Nopi in June 2011, several months after it opened and loved it (you can read that post here). Little has changed in terms of the restaurant’s décor or design. Nopi is split over two floors. The ground floor is white throughout with individualised tables, and the basement plays home to shared seating with views of the open kitchen. The menu still holds true to Ottolenghi’s original and inventive fusion of Mediterranean, Asian and Middle Eastern cooking, and along with the main size plates, there are a number of sharing options and plenty of choices for vegetarians.

A dish of seared scallops (£13.90) was pleasant on the palate and worked well with the sweetness of a delica pumpkin puree and some savoury red chicory. The scallops were a touch overcooked however and slightly tough, but otherwise this was a good dish.

Nopi - Seared scallops

Seared scallops

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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.

Seared scallops with daikon & apple

Seared scallops with daikon & apple

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Ottolenghi – Islington

I can never resist the patisserie delights at Ottolenghi. Whenever I walk past the branch on Ledbury Road in Notting Hill, I invariably end up gazing longingly through its shop window at all the treats on display and walking away with one a few minutes later. But Ottolenghi does much more than the sweet stuff. There is also a savoury selection at the display counter, and at the Islington branch (there are also branches in Kensington and Belgravia), there is a laid-back communal dining area, furnished in white, where you can choose from a menu (Islington is the only branch to offer this serviced dine-in area).

This menu is updated daily, and is split between dishes from the display counter and those ‘from the kitchen’. The dishes are all starter-sized, and so Ottolenghi recommends that you order three dishes per person. There were 15 choices on the menu on the evening of our visit (the menu is updated daily), and as there were 5 of us, K came up with the excellent idea of ordering all 15 dishes for us to share. I love to share! And I love to taste lots of little things, so this was ideal for me.

Left in a clockwise direction: tuna, pear, pumpkin, beef, aubergine

Left in a clockwise direction: tuna, pear, pumpkin, beef, aubergine

We started with the dishes from the counter selection. A line-caught seared tuna (£8.80) wrapped in nori (seaweed) and panko (breadcrumbs) was resoundingly fresh, and given a burst of life from the gentle heat of an accompanying wasabi cream.

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