Haven’t taken him here yet but would love go back for a special date night!
Tucked away on Warwick St, behind the bustling flow of traffic and busy pedestrians on Regent St is one of my new favourite restaurants in London – Nopi, the latest culinary project from chef and owner of Mediterranean-inspired café chain Ottolenghi. With its sleek and modern interior, the moment I step indoors my fellow foodie Nat and I are greeted by smiling staff and a heavenly smell of warm flavours lingering in the air – a little prelude of what’s to come tonight. Glancing at the menu when seated, we are told that the Middle Eastern and Asian fusion dishes are designed to be shared. This is rather pleasing to me as who doesn’t enjoy being able to sample a multitude? The highlights for me were (in particular order):
1. Rabbit Pastilla (£12)… Our waiter mentions this home cooked dish is inspired by Yotam’s pastry chef beginnings. Take one rabbit, slow cook it for 3 hours in Belgian dark chocolate, add dashes of paprika, pinenuts, brandy & spinach – then envelope this in a flaky, light and flavoursome pastry with a generous dust of icing sugar on top. What’s not to love about this dish? I’m having a Willy Wonka moment as my eyes close for a minute, savouring the sweet, velvety notes of this divine cocoa bunny treat. This was easily my favourite dish that I would definitely order again upon return.
2. Miso quail, grapes, verjuice, honey (£12)… Cooked to perfection, the quail is seemingly light, buttery and fluffy – the salty contrast of the miso teamed with the sweetness of honey and grapes is an unusual combination but one that works as the flavours are subtle and don’t overpower the tenderness of the quail.
3. Grilled seabass, hickory mussels, fennel pollen (£12.50)… Ok so not everyone is a fan of fennel but I love the stuff (call me strange but I can eat them raw like a celery stick!) – the smoky and nutty undertones of the fennel give the dish an extra unusual kick! Just googled what exactly fennel pollen is and doesn’t this sound poetic? ‘Fairy dust for food lovers… it makes it sparkle with flavour…Having trouble picturing it? Try this: teeny tiny golden pollen are taken off wild fennel plants…. It looks like fluffy sand, colored yellow by the sun. As special and rare as it is, wild fennel pollen is surprisingly easy to use—mix it with a touch of sea salt and black pepper and sprinkle it on to chicken, firm fleshed fish, potatoes or almost anything really before cooking.’
We also ordered the Five spice tofu, tomato and caramon passata, braised aubergine (£9) and Seared Scallops, pickled daikon, green apple (£12) as part of our savoury dishes – which also both held their own, but I will leave the ooh-aah descriptives to your judgement when you finally venture to Nopi yourself!
So when I mentioned friendly, professional and customer service oriented staff I didn’t lie! Our dessert finally arrives. We had ordered just one to share - the Coffee pecan financier, maple cream (£6.5)…. But there seems to be 3 desserts being hovered in our direction. Ludwig – Austrian floor manager extraordinaire, kindly insists that 2 desserts are on the house as we had to wait for 10 minutes before being shown to our table at the start of the night (while the table before us dawdled slowly to pay their bill… we weren’t fussed at that point as we were soaking up the buzz of the content looking patrons already seated… and I could relate as I would be moving ever so slowly too after a meal at Nopi!). Back to the puddings, Ludwig advises us to enjoy the Cardamom yoghurt, guava, streusel (£7) and Raspberry rose sorbet (£3.50). Each bite saw Nat and I nod our heads in appreciation. We loved the the financiers –small little French coffee flavoured cakes designed to be dipped generously in the sugary maple cream and gobbled up while still warm, keeping our stomachs already lined and brimmed with food even more satisfied, while the sorbet was a refreshingly fruity, flowery bliss.
If you have not yet discovered the bold flavours of Nopi, you should make a booking tomorrow. Yotam Ottolenghi – I salute thee!
Good for: After work dinner during the week, Dinner date with a special significant other, Group dining (they have two chef’s table downstairs that can fit up to 14 people on each and overlooks the busy kitchen – I’ve already booked this and will be back here for my birthday!) and I’ve heard various rants and raves that weekend brunch is also awesome with its own brunch menus.
Price: Approx £ 50pp for savoury and sweets including a lovely bottle of vino shared between two
Address: 21-22 Warwick Street, London W1B 5NE
Phone: 020 7494 9584
Visit: www.nopi-restaurant.com or read their blog at ottolenghi.tumblr.com