Harden's survey result
“A wonderful treasure-house of Middle Eastern dishes” – “absolutely fabulous sharing-plates”, of which the vegetarian ones “would sway even a committed carnivore with their culinary magic” – inspire many rave reviews of Yotam Ottolenghi’s Soho flagship; and its “unusual wines” are also “very acceptable”. “Downstairs, by the busy and interesting open kitchen, there are communal tables; the ground floor is more fashionable (busier and noisier) and, unlike at his main chain, you can book”. It’s no huge bargain though: “the small plates are as tasty as the cookbooks suggest but portions seem in inverse proportion to the price!”
The “awesome food” at influential writer-chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s Soho flagship is “a treat to the tastebuds” – and his Middle Eastern small plates even make “eating out feel healthy for once”. When it comes to the atmosphere, most diners experience a “happy buzz” but it’s “too loud” and “busy” for some tastes. Top Tip: “delightful at breakfast”.
“The flavours in the food just leap out and astound you” at Yotam Ottolenghi’s “bustling and deservedly popular” (if “slightly clinical”) Soho flagship, serving a “sensational” selection of the Middle Eastern/Mediterranean small plates that have made him a household name, with “lovely fresh ingredients and wonderful combinations of flavour, colourfully presented”.
“Creativity, enticing variety, vitality, sensuality and style” are combined in Yotam Ottolenghi’s “very thoughtful and alternative” cuisine, and many reporters seem to leave his “guilt-free” Middle Eastern-inspired spot off Regent Street “feeling more healthy than when they arrived”. Even some who rate it highly, though, say “it’s not for me, given the dieter-sized portions at big prices”.
Nopi Restaurant Diner Reviews
"Marked down on noise in the main floor where you sit at small tables. Downstairs is quieter and you can look at the kitchen working but you sit at a large bench. Food remains interesting as a mixture of Ottolengi salads and some hot dishes so you can choose and mix for the table which works well. Plenty for the non-meat eaters here and also for vegetarians. Enthusiastic service"
"The food is outstanding and different each time we go but we find it noisy."
|Wine per bottle||£30.00|
Just off Regent Street, a potentially useful brasserie, under the same ownership as Ottolenghi, and in a broadly similar (if more ambitious) style; format and location are undoubtedly very handy, but these attractions are undermined by high prices.
Upmarket deli/pÃ¢tisserie Ottolenghi has a legions of fans, many of whom have been keenly awaiting the opening of its backers' latest venture. Given the level of anticipation, it would be fair to say that the reception overall to their Soho débutant has been a touch muted. Not that anyone's found much wrong with the food, just that portions are small and prices are high. As we are not the first to observe, even lunch, drinking modestly, can easily set a couple back the wrong end of £100.
Our test meal for one comprised three savoury dishes (the recommended minimum), a dessert, a glass of wine and a cup of coffee. The bill came to £46, including service. With one exception, everything we ate - including the home-made sourdough with olive oil - was very good. The exception was lamb meat balls with yoghourt and pomegranate seeds, which tasted of very little.
The prettiest part of our meal was the rice pudding with cardamon - a sort of Impressionist delight, and it tasted as good as it looked. But then - at £6.50 for a few mouthfuls presented in the sort of small dish typically used for crème brûlée - it probably should have been.
If one were looking for justification for the prices, one might observe that huge amounts of money have clearly been lavished on the setting - all those brass light fittings, and all that marble can't have come cheap, and the loos are intriguingly mirrored and polished in a manner that would befit a small palace.
The basics, though, have sometimes been overlooked. The bar, for example - with none of the 'feature' lighting one expects nowadays - is rather dull. We could hardly help noticing this, as we sat at the bar counter which has a view of bar and the service lift. And the whitewashed brick of much of the interior is an economy statement quite at odds with all other aspects of the operation.
In the end, the 'package' '” lavish expenditure to create a semi-faux-rustic environment in which to enjoy good but unremarkable food at high prices - struck us as a bit twee.
De luxe rusticity is always a difficult trick to pull off, and with some discouraging precedents. Think of Marie Antoinette attending to her freshly-washed sheep at Le Petit Trianon in the grounds of Versailles, Her ultimate fate, as we all recall, was not a happy one.
21-22 Warwick St, London, W1B 5NE
|Wednesday||8 am‑3 pm, 5:30 pm‑10:30 pm|
|Thursday||8 am‑3 pm, 5:30 pm‑10:30 pm|
|Friday||8 am‑3 pm, 5:30 pm‑10:30 pm|
|Saturday||10 am‑10:30 pm|
|Sunday||10 am‑4 pm|