I’ve been so looking forward to dining at Yotam Ottolenghi’s new restaurant, Nopi, in Soho tonight – as jetlagged as I am (my travel buddy is already out for the count on the lounge). I love Ottolenghi’s food philosophy, Mediterranean influence and in particular his cook book, ‘Plenty’ – it’s like a favourite childhood picture book; you eat with your eyes flipping the pages time and time again.
I’m dining with an old colleague and friend – she is another one of those expats trying to convince me to move over here… I say I’d miss the weather and beach too much – she says “just fly to one in Europe for the weekend”. Hmmmm… Good point.
We’re delivered a bowl of the days salad; Roasted cauliflower, yoghurt tahini & sumac (oh so delicious!) and some sourdough while we drool over the menu – it suggests we share three savory plates between us (we’re thinking four).
To start we order – Burrata, white peach & fennel seeds; Five spiced tofu, tomato and cardamon passata & braised aubergine; Seared scallops, pickled daikon, green apple & chili jam.
The burrata is a perfect round pillow of creamy mozzarella – so beautiful – oozing with silky soft cheese dipped in a fennel seed dukkah… This is why I love cheese. The tofu is lovely but probably the least interesting dish of all. The bed of braised aubergine it sits on is tasty. The scallops… I’ve never seen such enormous scallops! Gentle giants -sweet and juicy.
I love the white tile, pale wood, marble and brass of Nopi’s decor. It’s elegantly simple and well contrasted to the rich texture and flavors of our dishes. Downstairs has large dining tables, surrounded by shelves of dry stores, jars of preserves and oils.
For main, we order the chefs special of Sea bass and baby squid cooked in a tagine with capsicum, paprika & preserved lemon… and need two more servings of sourdough to mop up all the lovely sauce and moist flaky fish.
My girlfriend tells me I have to check out the bathrooms… I pass large oil paintings of lemons that look like canvassed citrus sunshine and the wide brass bar that over looks the kitchen. The bathroom is a 360’ mirrored room – I feel like Alice stepping through the looking glass (did I mention I was jetlagged?!) Thankfully there is a “way out” arrow printed on the floor (apparently installed after a few patrons went M-I-A).
I return and the waitress is there to take our dessert order – they’re both gushing about the “incredible” guava, cardamon yoghurt & streusel (my date has dined here once before) and we’re also recommended the Lime curd, meringue, tapioca & honey mango.
There’s nothing interesting in their presentation – pale gelatinous substances in little glass bowls. The guava with cardamon yoghurt is “incredible”… tart fruit, sweetly spiced yoghurt and crunchy streusel (like pastry crumbs). Amazing infact.
By the time we finish a few hours later, I’ve unfortunately forgotten to note down our wine – a lovely light rose; a little dry and pale peach in colour.
Score: 8.5 Plates (out of 10)
Nopi - 21-22 Warwick Street Soho, London – 020 7494 9584