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My London Bites: Worshipping Ottolenghi at NOPI

April 23, 2016

I have been obsessed with Yotam Ottolenghi ever since I first visited his Notting Hill location of Ottolenghi back in college.  Owning every single one of his cookbooks was just my way of showing how much I absolutely adore the vibrant and flavorful creations that Yotam and his team churns out.  Making his newest restaurant NOPI my first stop on a trip to London back last August was not up for debate.  Not even an overnight flight and a missed connection in Ireland can stop me from making my lunch reservation at the Soho restaurant.

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We were greeted by a dazzling spread of colorful salads and mounds of bread immediately upon entering the chic white and gold eatery.  This signature arrangement was a familiar sight for those who have been to Ottolenghi.  I had not even had the chance to stop for breakfast that morning so it took every ounce of will power not to reach out and sneak away a little bite while we waited for our table.  Lucky for everyone involved, it happened almost immediately.

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The seasonal menu here is broken down into nibbles, mains as well as wide range of starters and shareable plates for the table.  Since I am all about sharing, this was the most natural place to start.  A trio of small vegetable plates to start:  chickpea and mung bean sprout salad with blue cheese, burnt eggplant with black garlic, pine nuts, and basil, and finally a chickpea salad with sweet roasted tomatoes and crumbles of feta.  The chickpea salad with roasted tomatoes was the standout with its bold and robust flavor.

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A signature at NOPI is the burrata salad with lavendar honey and peaches.  Topped with roasted mustard seeds, this touch made the dish an interesting twist on the now ubiquitous burrata.

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For our main courses, we opted for the beautifully grilled artic char served simply with herb sauce and yogurt.  Perfectly cooked to medium, the fish was as fresh as can be.

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And to accompany it, a simple dish of blistered shishito peppers.

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The ultimate star of the show that meal was the twice cooked baby chicken with lemon myrtle salt and chili sauce.  Another excellent example of simplicity at its best.  The incredibly juicy baby chicken benefitted from a long and slow cook and marinate in flavorful Asian stock and a second roast for that amazing char on the outside.  The punchy bold chili sauce was just icing on the top.

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And finally, we were ready to move onto dessert.  Salted caramel ice cream sundae with a rich chocolate sauce and crunchy peanuts for topping was reminiscent of a Snickers bar.  We did not hesitate to dig in.

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And in true English fashion, an Eton mess, NOPI style of course.  The layers of fresh strawberry, crunchy meringue, sweet rose water cream and refreshing strawberry sorbet was topped with dried rose petal for a magical touch.  Every bite was refreshing and delightfully girly.

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Now that was a lunch well worth the journey across the pond for.  The menu here kept the tradition of Ottolenghi by celebrating the ingredients in a bold and vibrant way but just that much more grown up.  And if this was any indication of my adventures in London from here on out, I can’t wait to start exploring!

NOPI | 21-22 Warwick St, London W1B 5NE, United Kingdom | http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/

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