Sunday, February 19, 2012

Nopi


I am lucky enough to have friends who share my passion for eating well and trying out new restaurants. This year, I decided to celebrate my birthday by having dinner at a place none of us had been to called Nopi.

Nopi is the brainchild of Chef Yotam Ottolenghi who is well known for his recipe books and he has a bunch of cafes and bakeries all over London that serve vibrant dishes where vegetables take centre stage rather than just being on the side. He opened Nopi last year and the food is a fusion of different Mediterranean cuisines – served in the increasing popular ‘tapas’ style of sharing small plates at the table.

Nopi is situated quite conveniently between Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus. The ground floor has some lovely décor and then downstairs, it’s a more casual atmosphere with two large tables facing an open kitchen. The setting downstairs is good for large groups and Nopi offers two set menus for groups of 10 or more.

I spent ages fussing and fretting over the menu options and the staff were quite accommodating in dealing with my all questions. I selected the menu which gave the table 9 different dishes – each person paying 37£ each. I was a bit concerned as I had heard their portions are quite small but I needn’t have worried – the food was more than enough and in hindsight, I think set menu of 8 dishes for 32£ would have been a better option. Another lovely thing about the menu is that is seasonal so it changes every month.

We started with the Burrata with pink grapefruit and basil which was divine and one of those dishes you must order. The next two plates didn’t appeal to me – the Catalan tart and roasted Cauliflower with ricotta.

We then had Octopus with Morcilla (Spanish Black Pudding) and the Seared Prawns. I was not so keen on the Octupus but really like the the prawns.

And then ended with the roasted Sirloin with spinach and pecorino which was presented very beautifully and the char-grilled broccolini. I would not recommend the broccolini – a very tepid and pointless dish.

I was a bit disappointed in the dessert. I had ordered a chocolate rum fondant cake which sounded delectable and given past experience at the Ottolenghi Bakery, I had high expectations. However, the cake was more like a flourless chocolate cake – too thick and stodgy and no hint of rum. I’m pretty sure a fondant should have a soft, gooey centre. For a cake that costs 50£ I was certainly not impressed.

By now, I think you can guess what my thoughts are on Nopi. I was very excited in the beginning but ended up having mixed feelings. To be honest, it seemed to be a bit hyped up.
I feel the menu over-promised and under delivered.

The description of the dishes on the menu and the presentation of the food certainly captivated me. But the actual taste of the food didn’t wow me. Don’t get me wrong – it was a nice meal – but rather expensive for 40£ each (without adding in the wine). I was willing to pay extra because I thought I would be experiencing the food of an extremely skilled chef who knows how to experiment with different ingredients. 

However In the end I’ve learned that if you have a good bunch of friends, any place you go to will be an enjoyable experience. I had a lovely birthday dinner and perhaps I’m a bit critical. I appreciate how the staff took into consideration all the special requests I made. I especially liked how they set some of the vegetarian dishes aside for a friend of mine who was running a bit late.

I think if you are a vegetarian, it’s a good choice since you will have a lot of options. Just be prepared though, you might end up spending a bit more than you expected. A better idea would be to visit the Ottolenghi Café & Bakery – where you get the same type of food but at a much better price.
  
Also, if you do every go to Nopi, this might sound strange – but you must check out the ladies bathroom. It has a whole ‘House of Mirrors’ effect going on which is quite fun and a tad bit disorientating if you’ve a had a glass of wine or two J

Nopi

21-22 Warwick Street
London W1B 5NE
Tel: 0207 494 9584
Tube: Oxford Circus/ Piccadilly Circus

NOPI on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

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