Tooting is a brilliant place to eat but as we count down the months to the baby’s birth, we’ve been trying to eat at places further afield we know are going to be a struggle to get to once he’s here.
Lots of our friends have been raving about Nopi for ages so we felt our third wedding anniversary was an excellent occasion to give it a go.
We’ve never eaten at any of Ottolenghi’s places but knew to expect delicious, seasonal Middle Eastern-inspired food.
The restaurant on Warwick Street in Soho is the epitome of cool and classy. White walls, with a beautiful bar and gold fittings and music of just the right volume and tempo.
The menu gives the option of sharing lots of small plates or having starters and the bigger mains. We went traditional and ordered two of the starters and a main course each with a couple of sides.
The roasted aubergine with sorrel yoghurt, radish and almonds was the first thing we ate but the dish we were still talking about at the end.
The balance of textures with the incredibly soft aubergine and the crunch of the almonds and radish was perfect. The colours on the plate made it almost too good to eat, almost…
The other starter we shared were the courgette and manouri fritters. Manouri is a type of Greek semi-soft cheese which I have never tried before. It doesn’t have the same strong flavour as feta but is another ideal match for courgette. The fritters were light and moist and accompanied by a cardamom yoghurt which we couldn’t get enough of.
I chose the sea bass with a pistachio sambal and brown shrimp butter. Sea bass is my go-to fish on a menu but I have never tried it cooked like this.
The sambal, which had been scored through the fish’s flesh, brought back happy memories of Sri Lanka. It was spicier than I expected but the sweet shrimps stopped it from being overpowering.
We ordered the heritage tomato, sumac and basil salad and the truffle polenta chips to go with our mains. The tomatoes were sweet and juicy and had the added bonus of pomengranate. The polenta chips were fat and very rich but with the garlic aioli, impossible to resist.
Matt surprisingly chose the potato cakes – no meat, no fish – an unusual move for him.
They came with wild garlic and picked walnut salsa but we couldn’t help feel like perhaps there was something extra missing. Matt also said he thought they lacked in structure a bit and could have done with being a bit more firm.
Since being pregnant and not being able to drink wine with dinner, I have made it my mission to always order a dessert and Matt never usually needs much convincing.
We shared the caramel ice cream with hot chocolate sauce and peanut brittle. There wasn’t enough brittle in my opinion but the generous helping of chocolate sauce made up for it and it was just the right size for us to enjoy without feeling uncomfortably full.
Everything about this meal was spot-on from the ambience to the service. The only thing that slightly annoyed me was the decision to serve so many of the dishes on small wooden boards (see above). They were just that bit too small to make it easy for the waiters to pick up and every time the table was cleared I was preparing for a big crash.
I don’t know what we were expecting from our evening at Nopi but we both agreed that it went beyond our expectations.
Now we just need to work out if we can fit in another Ottolenghi place in the next 10 weeks…