Friday, 15 April 2011

NOPI: Alice in Wonderland mirror spins and unexpected outcomes

Quick entry this week.

After a quick drink at Hix bar with Twiglet sustenance added on to our bill as a non-optional but much enjoyed extra, I was lucky to be invited to Nopi - apparently stands for North of Piccadilly (which I checked and it is)

Nopi is Yotam Ottolenghi's new venture. I've never eaten an Ottolenghi meal before so my previous image of his cuisine was 'very attractive male chef concocts dishes with an eastern mediterranean influence that look and taste delicious and cost an arm and a leg'.

First Impressions
We walked in to a fairly sterile environment with few soft furnishings but some lovely light fittings and the quintessential bowl of chillies at the welcome desk. They found our reservation and the table was ready which was a good start to the evening. Our waitress was brilliant. Friendly but not too much, informative but not dictatorial, available but not overbearing. In short, faultless

The Food
The menu is split into vegetable dishes, fish dishes and meat dishes. There are no starters or mains here as it's all about the small sharing plate trend. A trend that has been welcomed by London foodies and puts an end to those miserable people who don't like sharing and those naughty women who steal chips off their boyfriends/lovers/husbands' plates.

We chose five dishes: two veg, two fish and one meat. They were all delicious and seemed to get better and better as different ones arrived. Flavour combinations such as blood orange with burrata and coriander seeds were spectacular. Seared prawns, fennel, white oregano and feta proved that fish and cheese can go together beautifully and braised lamb belly, mixed mushrooms and sumac was just stunning. The plates aren't huge but there are so many flavours going on that you relish every mouthful and your palate will be exhausted by all the excitement by the end.

The Surprise
Now, here comes the interesting bit. Our food took a little while to arrive. Not hours but probably a little longer than expected. I had time to pop down to the AMAZING toilets and do a couple of mirror spins without missing anything and still had time to chat some more so it wasn't a problem. But when the dessert menu arrived, the faultless waitress announced that because said food had taken a little while, they would offer a pudding or sweet dessert wine on the house - even though we hadn't said anything! Now that doesn't often happen.

And so two glasses of dessert wine came our way.
Go to Nopi. It's great!

And just to finish off, I revisited my previous view of Ottolenghi as follows: 'attractive ISRAELI chef concocts dishes with a MIDDLE EAST & ASIAN (geography was never my strength) influence that look and taste delicious (SPECTACULAR) and cost an arm and a leg...BUT IT'S WORTH IT!'

NOPI on Urbanspoon

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