A couple of years ago an American friend of mine told me of a chef that everybody was talking about in London, the Israeli Yottam Ottolenghi. I bought one of his cookery books, which I love, and afterwards I heard that he had opened restaurants in London, under the name of Ottolenghi. The other day we went for dinner to the one in Islington, North London, an area unknown to the tourists, unless you are looking for antiques in Camden Passage.
First thing you notice is that the restaurant has a showcase window, but this is also a delicatessen where you can buy sweets, like huge meringues!
Inside, the place is long, giving you a sense of depth. In the centre of the room, a large long table. Wait a minute… it is not one, there are two tables together to make it even longer, where all the diners sit “kind of together”. On the tables, big silver three arm candelabra. All this reminds me of when I have dinner parties at home; it has “that kind of feeling”... The place is decorated in a minimalist style with a huge red sculpture along the wall, the rest, once again… white!!
The concept of eating here is fantastic. There are no starters or main courses, only a list of cold dishes and another of hot ones (8-10 each). While they prepare the hot ones they serve you the cold, and everything is to share, like when you eat tapas… a very Mediterranean way of eating. The dishes are very creative and original, with their aromas and mix of flavours, and everything very refreshing. “Golden beetroot with white balsamic, grapefruit, watercress and herbs”. “Zucchini, broccolini, pistachio, parmesan and herbs with truffle oil”. “Chunks of sirloin with mustard and sweet cilantro”. “Lamb with a sweet spicy peanut sauce, piquillo peppers, capers and anchovies”. “Mackerel with green mango chutney and carrot”. “Deer with green sesame in a lemon sauce”…. We want to try every single dish!!
Unfortunately we don’t have room for dessert but our waiter told us that we couldn´t leave without trying them so he didn’t hesitate and gave us a take away box to take home. Inside there were cupcakes - What a nice gesture! Oh… I nearly forgot about the wines…. A big selection -mainly Italian-, but as I had never tried a wine from Palestine, I chose it: Hamdani Jandali, white made by monks- It was yummy!
Such a privilege to eat in places like this!
In the evening you must book, during the day they don’t take bookings. Also open for breakfast.
Other restaurants in Notting Hill and in the West End, and soon opening in the trendy Shoreditch.
(By the way, here in Palma, in Santa Catalina, there is a restaurant owned by a chef from Israel that cooks Ottolenghis dishes - “Simply Delicious” by Ronen)