Friday, 5 February 2016

Places to Eat in London | Ottolenghi, Notting Hill

During our trip to the UK, instead of looking on user generated sites like Yelp or Zomato like I usually do, I found myself looking on my iPhone map to see what kind of places there were around the area we were visiting. We wanted to check out the Portobello Markets (tube stop Notting Hill Gate) and while searching up directions on how to walk there from station, my eyes caught on the orange icon that read Ottolenghi. I knew I had heard that name before. After a few moments of thoughtful backtracking and Googling, I realised that Ottolenghi was one half of the creators behind Nopi. I've been wanting his cookbook for ages since I saw it's beautiful hardback cover at the bookshop and when I saw that it was en route to the markets I got so ecstatic, I knew we had to stop by for a meal.

Ottolenghi, unlike Nopi (which we also went to, words and photos coming soon!) is more of a casual deli style eatery. Upon entering the small space, we were met by a long table holding countless salads and pastries on different levelled tiers. It was a sight to behold and I'm still kicking myself for not getting a good photo of it. The narrow room was filled with glorious food and people visiting had to squeeze and manoeuvre around each other trying to get a glimpse of what was on offer. Everything is available for takeaway, and that seems like the way to go. There is also a large communal table down the back of Ottolenghi that seats up to ten people, so beware of very limited seating. Luckily for us we got seats straight away!

The menu at Ottolenghi is simple and minimal, with the focus on salads and pastries on display, and a few hot items. I ordered the tomato and pepper (capsicum) soup that came with a slice of delicious sourdough bread and mug of jasmine tea. The soup was delicious, although it looked and sounded simple, keeping true to Ottolenghi's intricacy and flavour layers, I could distinguish the perfect balance of sweet and tart tomatoes and the roasted, almost bitter taste of the peppers. Extremely satisfying and delicious.

Selection of three salads: 11.50 pounds.
My mum ordered the quiche, sadly I can't recall clearly what it was like, although I do remember that it was sturdy, full of flavour and that it had a wonderful pastry crust. Ottolenghi pays special attention of vegetables, especially his amazing salads. There was an option of a large or small salad plate that allowed you to pick out three (for the small plate) or four (for the large plate) types of salads. My sister ordered the small plate and decided to choose the roasted aubergine with black garlic yoghurt, Aleppo chilli, almonds and mixed herbs; grilled mixed peppers with mograbieh (a type of pearl cous cous) with preserved lemon, nigella seeds, mint and rocket; and mixed green beans with mustard seeds, chilli and red onion. All three salads were delicious and had their unique flavour combinations. Ottolenghi is known for his use of spices and herbs, especially honing in North African and Middle Eastern flavours, and this was clearly shown in the salads. The flavour profile of the salads were so intricate and layered, and although it sounds like there are so many ingredients, everything just blended together so well. 

Quiche: 5.70 pounds
Although there are no photos, we also decided to takeaway some sweet treats. We went for the classic chocolate brownie and a chocolate chip cookie, both so satisfying and delicious. If you're ever in the Notting Hill area, I urge you to try out Ottolenghi. There are a few other branches in Belgravia, Islington and Spitalfields as well, and make sure you get there early if you want to eat there. The small confines of the communal table add to the experience as much as the food does.

Ottolenghi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato