Thursday, 1 September 2016


Yesterday I visited Nopi on Warwick Street, London, Ottelenghi's more upmarket outpost and a take on his Middle Eastern sharing plates for which he is so synonymous.

I visited with the lovely Chloe Pierre LDN and we were seated downstairs in the less formal communal dining area - where two large canteen-style tables invite diners to sit among each other. We were in with the supplies in open plan shelving - from Cretan olive oil, coriander seeds and large jars of vine leaves, Chloe mentioned it was like being in the store cupboard but I liked the quirkiness and open-ness of it all. 

Downstairs at Nopi

We also had easy viewing of the open plan kitchen, which for me, is always a winner. The atmosphere was light, chatty and relaxed, perfect for a lunch time meeting and diners were a complete mix of business lunchers and friends catching up.

Open plan kitchen at Nopi

The waitress we had was knowledgeable and informative about dishes on the menu, giving us clues to her favourites and the ones that have stood the test of time.

We opted for a selection of six sharing plates between us, and the first to arrive was a crushed beetroot plate with goat's cheese and toasted hazelnuts. It had the vivid trademark purple beetroot colour and looked incredibly vibrant and beautiful to look at, happily the flavours matched and even excelled the appearance, it was a delicious dish. The earthiness of the beetroot was there but with an underlying sweetness that was perfectly offset by the tangy goat's cheese and the toasted hazelnuts. A really well executed dish.

Crushed beetroot at Nopi

With the beetroot arrived the burrata - one of my absolute favourite things to eat, it was well served with a portion of coriander seeds, roasted peach a flourish of micro herbs and a plum reduction, and another good dish. It I had a minor criticism, it would be that the burrata could be slightly creamier - I've purchased some wonderful burrata myself recently from a stall at Borough Market and this wasn't up to the same unctuous, creamy quality.

Burrata at Nopi

We had the twice cooked baby chicken, with lemon myrtle salt and a simple chilli sauce - one of the best dishes for me, the chicken was crispy and charred with that barbecue flavour on the outside but soft and moist inside and perfectly seasoned. Delicious.

Twice cooked baby chicken at Nopi

The beef short rib was a revelation; I was expecting a slow-cooked concoction, maybe even stew-like, as opposed to the perfectly pink arrival. It was tender, seasoned well and utterly gorgeous. I've been avoiding 'rare' meat during pregnancy but this was a temptation too far and I couldn't resist - it was totally worth it too! The accompaniments, pickled styled shallots with a shitake mushroom all complemented the dish perfectly.

Beef short rib at Nopi
We ordered the truffled polenta chips, and whilst they looked great, I wasn't keen on the polenta - I'm unsure on the texture and the taste and we both agreed it was the one dish we could have done without.

Truffled polenta chips at Nopi

Another side dish we ordered was one of the stars of the show for me - heritage tomatoes dressed in sumac, red onion and basil. An almost pickled taste overall, and stunning brightly hued tomatoes that just tasted divine. A flavourful reminder of just how great, supposed 'side dishes' can be, and why Ottolenghi's style is so widely emulated and revered. Fantastic.

Heritage tomatoes at Nopi
We both had a mocktail and the entire meal at Nopi came in at £82 including service. As is often the case with anywhere proffering 'small plates' they may be small but the price soon adds up. Probably a fair price given the name and the location in the heart of the West End. I'll definitely return and next time will be trying the fishy choices of rainbow trout and sea bass as well as the roasted butternut squash.

If you like Middle Eastern food and are in the area, definitely give Nopi a try – but be warned, booking is wise as they were packed during the lunchtime service yesterday.

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