I tried getting a table at Nopi when it first opened its doors, but then somehow it fell off my eat list... until I see Yotam Ottolenghi sampling all the Mediterranean goodies on TV again.
The restaurant was beautiful. There was an air of elegance and class with the tasteful touches of brass and the long marble bar with a ceiling of shiny wine glasses; yet it doesn't lose its laid-back, easygoing feel, which is even more prominent in the basement with its large communal table, watching the chefs at work. We stuck to the ground floor - better for our girlie catch up.
Seeing it's it's officially winter and a very gloomy Sunday, we thought we'd start with some cocktails to cheer ourselves up. Denice went for the slightly sparkly Saffron Chase and I had the Pineapple & Sage Martini, made with roasted pineapple puree - delightful.
Burrata, Miyagawa, coriander seeds, white balsamic
Um, did I mention my addiction to burrata? I know I know, it's been an awful lot of these sacks of white creamy stuff I have been eating lately.
The toasted coriander seeds were crispy and its nuttiness paired beautifully with the stretchy mozzarella, together with the plump juicy segments of mandarin that gave a it zesty zing. This burrata dish is very different to the version by Union Street Cafe; the recipe and combination of flavours were equally good, however I thought the actual burrata cheese itself was more luscious with a richer milkiness at USC.
Roasted aubergine, feta pickled cucumber, pumpkin seeds
One of the signature items at Ottolenghi's eateries. The thick discs of aubergine were soft and succulent, with a generous sprinkle of pepperberry for a distinctive aroma, and pumpkin seeds for some bite. I wasn't a fan of the pickled cucumber, thought its acidity dominated the rest of the ingredients.
Courgette and manouri fritters, cardamom yoghurt
The cardamom is very pronounced in the fritters even without the yoghurt, but it was mild exotic spiciness, nothing too intrusive. The filling of thinly sliced courgette mixed with greek cheese was moist with gentle crunchiness from the veg. Despite being deep fried, it felt light and healthy.
Grilled quail, black pepper caramel, turnip tops, pickled daikon
The quail may look burnt, but it's the black pepper caramel; there was no unpleasant charcoal bitterness, just subtle sweetness that glazed the skin. The bird was young and tender, simply grilled and lightly seasoned to allow the flavour of the quail through.
Sticky rice, brown coconut jam, caramelised banana
This was a slight variant of the Thai sticky rice dessert. The small cube was dense, sticky rice was faintly sweet, dusted with a thin layer of raw sugar; I added the peanut brittle and a drizzle of warm coconut milk with the warm banana, it was just right.
The food at Nopi was delicious; vibrant, fresh and bold. Familiar modern European dishes were given a remake with the addition of Middle Eastern / Asian ingredients and spices, injecting them with surprises and twists, as well as the Ottolenghi touch. I got chatting with a couple of the staff on my way out, apparently the savoury cheese cake is unmissable. Noted - I am coming back for more.
21-22 Warwick Street
Tel: 0207 494 9584