NOPI (which stands for North of Piccadilly), was launched by Yotam Ottolenghi and his team just over a week ago in the West End, off Regent Street. I’ve been following Ottolenghi on Twitter and have been admiring from a far, the progress culminating in the opening of this brasserie – talk about a lot of hard work! Much like his Ottolenghi chain, the dishes carry flavours from the Middle East and Asia (certainly from a couple of the dishes I tasted on my visit which reminded me of food from Malaysia).
I was impressed on arrival. From the exposed brick wall painted white and complemented by another wall of shiny white tiles, to the marble flooring and brass up-lighters reflecting the lights upwards to the white painted ceiling which created a lovely soft romantic atmosphere. The basement has two large tables which looks like they can seat about 10 – 16 persons each, look into the open kitchen. One side of the space shows off some of the fresh produce and condiments used by the chefs on two long shelves. I really fell in love with the basement space – I dream of owning a space like this, open and perfect for gatherings with family and friends.
Staff was friendly and our waitress was fairly knowledgeable about the menu when we asked for recommendations. I would note though, that some aspects of service has to be ironed out e.g. clearing the plates only after everyone at the table has finished their food or leaving the olive oil for the bread when the customer still has half a slice of uneaten bread on the plate. Kudos to management for deciding to offer free filtered still AND sparkling water to customers – how many places do you know in London do this?
The menu is designed for sharing and divided into four sections comprising meat, fish, vegetables and sweets, with a recommendation of three savoury dishes per person. Between the two of us, my husband and I ordered five savoury dishes to share followed by a dessert each. All the dishes we tried carried subtle flavours and were cooked very well, with all the different elements coming together and nothing seemed out of sync in any of the dishes.
My favourite dish was the seared scallops, pickled daikon and green apple which was accompanied by a chilli jam which tasted a little bit like the XO sauce found in oriental dishes. The scallops were huge and the texture (soft with a bit of bite) meant that for me, it was cooked just right. K’s was the twice-cooked baby chicken served with lemon myrtle salt and red pepper sauce – a successful recommendation by our waitress. When Yotam Ottolenghi came over to say hi and to enquire about our meal, he explained that the baby chicken was first boiled in a broth then grilled to produce the lovely crispy skin.
Here’s what we had:
Twice-cooked baby chicken, lemon myrtle salt, red pepper sauce
Ossobuco, sage and parmesan polenta
Seared scallops, pickled daikon, green apple
Halibut carpaccio, lemon oil, samphire, shiso
Fondant swede gratin, savoy cabbage
Pineapple galette, pandan, coconut ice cream – the taste of pandan was very subtle, in fact we could hardly taste it
Churros, fennel seed sugar, hot chocolate – I enjoyed the twist on the normal cinnamon sugar that normally goes with churros
Price for two with 7 plates of food as above, a tomato juice and double espresso = £72 before service charge (before the 50% soft-opening discount)
Where’s the plate?
21-22 Warwick Street London W1B 5NE which is just behind Regent Street
Note: I was asked politely not to take photos of the brasserie as there were still improvements to be made to the interiors so although I managed to snap a few photos, you’ll just have to visit to see the place for yourself! Oh, and wait till you see the restrooms 🙂