If you've ever even walked past Ottelonghi your mouth would have instantly started drooling at the cruel display of picture perfect cakes, oozing with icing, coloured with glazed fruit and layers of fresh cream that have the stomach growling despite just having lunch. Or the mountains of salads in the background, all quite rudely covering the counter and making even the most decisive person scratch their head in doubt.
The success of Yotam Ottelonghi's cafe's have opened up a restaurant in busy Soho. The first thing you notice about NOPI is the S P A C E . Cause let's face it - the cafe's were an elbow-to-elbow affair as one nestled their coffee cup who's saucer overlapped the cake plate and mounted your neighbours salad. There is a counter with a nice display of the day's offerings to share but nothing as elaborate as the cafe. Despite being on Warick Street, there is still a decent amount of light that streams through the large window and bounces off the white tiled walls. It's clean, hip and modest.
// inside NOPI //
The latter definitely not describing the tastes of the food. We peruse the menu and each dish has at least one ingredient we have never heard of before. Curiosity may have killed the cat but given the restaurant is still in businness - no humans faced this fate.
We start with three starters to share. The first - roasted aubergine, lime pickle and tzatziki (£9). Aubergine usually is leaking with olive oil as acts like a sponge - soaking up whatever liquid it is even in close proximity to. But it had soaked up a whole lot of middle eastern flavour and not a river of olive oil in sight. Sitting on a smother of fresh tzatziki and zesty lime pickle, the spices were the main star and applauded with pomegranate seeds on top.
// roasted aubergine //
Next was the burrata, peach, fennel and coriander seeds (£12).The coriander seeds were a great addition - adding a crispy texture to the soft, silky burrata. Although I've had better burrata - the peach was a great combo. But the seeds really saved the dish.
// burrata with peach //
Last of the startes came by the waitresses recommendation and our curiosity for 'barberries'. The roasted cauliflower, farro, barberries and almond (£9) was, unlike the waitresses, not my favourite. And on second thoughts - where was the almond? The flavours were still great but by far nothing on the scale to the first two.
// roasted cauliflower //
Next up were the mains. I had sea scallops, seaweed spaghetti and shitake (£12). The scallops - possibly one of the hardest things to cook, were tender on the inside with a sweet burnt glaze. The shitake were simply and the saltiness of the seaweed balanced the sweet flavours.
// sea scallops //
My company opted for the duck with red quinoa and hazelnut beer butter (£11.50). Big points for the red quinoa laced with sweet enoki mushrooms. That was definitely a stand out. The beer batter wasn't too crash hot and the duck was well cooked but let's be honest, you really always have to eat duck with a plum or apple sauce.
// duck //
There was still room for dessert so we shared the one that stood out - rhubarb mess, lychee sorbet, stem ginger and chrysanthemum (£8.50). The desert was fine but whoever is wrote the menu needs an editor. Rhubarb - I counted two pieces; luchee sorbet - not enough, stem ginger - as large as ice cubes and not sure where one was to find the chrysanthemum. A whole lot of cream was also killing the flavours and was not mentioned in the description.
// rhubarb mess //
Special mention as to be given to the washrooms. By far THE BEST TOILETS IN TOWN. Reminiscent of Yayoi Kusama's "Infinity Room" - I along with the other women in the bathroom stood around forgetting what our actually purpose was.
// the bathroom //
Nopi also has a private dining room downstairs (where these bathroom are also found so you can imagine it becomes the highlight of the dinner - trip out sessions as the wine flows) and upstairs a counter for those who prefer intimate, counter dining.
// counter //
// window tables //