I’ve been very lucky to have visited some incredible restaurants in recent years and now I am able to add Nopi to that list. Opening in 2011, Nopi is a sophisticated, bright restaurant from Yotam Ottelenghi. Similar in offering to his delis, Nopi is the next level up and slightly more formal.
Our table was booked downstairs, where there are two large marble sharing tables and a wall of…storage? The room itself is beautiful and matches the upstairs aesthetic apart from the shelves that line this one wall. These seem to be where the kitchen stores many of its products. Understandable, as I bet there is little storage space anywhere else, but why do I have to look at Marmite and ‘early harvest’ Olive oil whilst eating? Have they not heard of cupboards? I only took pictures of the pretty table, so you’ll just have to google the pictures of Marmite on shelves yourself.
After a small hiccup in the beginning (we were taken downstairs and there was no music, no other people and an open kitchen where all the chefs looked very stressed) we were given menus and time to decide which of the many dishes we would indulge in. Boy we chose a lot. I just want to state early on that we ordered far too much food and you’ll want to make sure you’ve left space for dessert.
We started off with vegetable crudités with nori aioli. Sounds simple, but I could have eaten this dish all day long. Who knew carrots, radishes and other veggies (which we never figured out what they were) could be so delicious when paired with one snazzy mayonnaise. We were also brought some complimentary Olives and Ottolenghi roasted spiced nuts. I should have paced myself, but those olives and nuts disappeared before I could even think about not eating all the food at once.
The next ‘course’ was a selection of the small plates, which we shared between us as a group. We tried to keep it simple, so only ordered the Burrata with blood orange, coriander seeds & lavender honey, Roasted aubergine with Feta Yoghurt, pistachio & aleppo chilli, Courgette and manor fritters with cardamom yoghurt & a couple of fish dishes. The courgette fritters were crispy on the outside and beautifully soft in the centre. The cardamom yoghurt paired perfectly. It would have been very easy to become too aromatic and even though it did look like it was half cardamom half yoghurt, the flavour was balanced and vibrant. I find Aubergine is easily cooked very badly and ends up resembling what I think eating slugs would be like. This was not the case thank God. The aubergine had those lovely little burnt bits, which balanced out a bit of the sweetness. That feta yoghurt is something I’ll be making at home and smothering over everything. It’s probably healthy right?
Although these two were fantastic, the stand out for me was the Burrata. I mean it’s cream and cheese, how could it not be? I’d never had it paired with blood orange before, but it was a match made in heaven. I also thought when it came out that someone had gone a bit mental with the coriander seeds, but surprisingly they brought depth and texture to an otherwise very light and fresh dish. If you go to Nopi, you must order this dish.
Then we had another surprise complimentary dish. The savoury Cheesecake. On top of there you’ve got pickled beetroot, almonds and thyme honey. Now I had high hopes for this dish, but in the end found it too rich and it didn’t quite match the standards of the previous plates. Maybe it was because I was already filling up and we hadn’t even gotten to the main course!
My main dish was something I’d never even come close to having before, but I had just decided to dive in and give it a go. Chickpea pancake with spiced peas, tomato, pickled chilli & yuzu. First up, I would love to know how they got that pancake onto the plate so perfectly. As soon as I touched it, it crumbled into many many pieces. The peas were spiced in a way that made them taste like a south indian curry, which surprisingly worked really well with the fresh cherry tomatoes. This was so tasty and I was so upset at how full I was. I had to stop eating it, because I knew the main event was still to come…
We picked a couple of sides, because that definitely wasn’t enough food to feed four (What were we thinking!?). Truffle polenta chips with parmesan & aioli, Chargrilled purple-sprouting broccoli with tahini and miso glaze, Radicchio with fennel, citrus, yuzu kosho and pink peppercorns. I ended up not even touching the Polenta chips, because my main was too tasty and I was very aware of the lack of space in my stomach. The broccoli was so yummy, I forgot to even photograph it. It was smoky and burnt and on paper sounds ruined, but it was mouthwateringly good. The radicchio offered some much needed palate cleansing and was one of my favourite presentations of a dish.
Dessert. This is the course I always tell myself I should eat more of and I am so glad I did on this occasion. I chose the Malt barley ice cream with date fudge and a chocolate soil. It came in separate components and I just assumed I should pour everything over the ice cream. If I was wrong to do this, they should change their serve because it was heaven. I have never gone from completely stuffed to starving hungry, but this dessert can do that to you. I probably looked like a five year old, stuffing ice cream into my face as quickly as I could, worried my mum would change her mind about letting me have it.
I had the most wonderful time at Nopi and would go back again just for dessert.
Note: I may have drunk a lot of wine very quickly, which may have impaired my view of the dessert, but I would recommend doing the same.