The very first night I arrived in London the friends I was staying with informed me they had managed to snag us a dinner reservation at Ottolenghi in Islington. Ottolenghi has 5 restaurants and delis across London, with the Islington one his very first.
It has an ever changing menu with a counter full of salads and light dishes, as well as a selection of warm dishes from the kitchen, with a large proportion of the menu vegetarian friendly. It is designed for sharing, and we went to town ordering as many dishes as we could possibly squeeze on our table.
First up was a dish from the counter side of the menu, the Grilled Yellow & Green Courgette, served with pistachio, truffle oil, tarragon and kefalotyri (£9.50). The courgettes were soft and delightfully charred, with the truffle oil providing some delicious flavour. The pistachios and cheese added great texture and this was definitely a winner of a dish!
Next we had the Broccolini with roasted red onion, dukkah, tarragon and chilli (£9), also from the counter menu. This dish had a nice amount of kick from the chilli which was nicely balanced by the sweet roasted red onion and the topping of dukkah was absolutely spot on. Broccolini is one of my favourite greens so I think I’ll be recreating this one at home very soon!
Then we have the Mixed Green Beans with Shaved Asparagus and Broadbeans (£9) served with confit garlic and spinach. It was a simple dish but still incredibly tasty, with plenty of garlic, and provided a nice lighter addition to our meal.
Our last dish from the counter section was the Roasted Aubergine (£9) served with tamarind yoghurt, spicy seeds, pickled lemon and basil. Ottolenghi does eggplant dishes incredibly well and this was no exception. The eggplant was cooked perfectly and the combination of flavours and textures was absolutely spot on. This was an early front-runner for dish of the night, and definitely something I would order again if it was on the menu!
Our first dish from the kitchen side of the menu was the Char-grilled English Asparagus (£11) with ajo blanco, grapes and dukkah. I wouldn’t normally think to use warm grapes in a salad but these worked so well and provided delicious bursts of sweetness in each bite, and when combined with the creamy ajo blanco made for a cracker of a dish.
Next up was the Smoked Aubergine and Nigella Seed Croquettes (£11) served with tarragon aioli. I love a good croquette and these were spot on – creamy, smokey eggplant in the middle and crunchy, well seasoned crumb on the outside. The tarragon aioli was also delicious and provided an excellent, light flavour to balance the dish out. Another winning aubergine dish from the Ottolenghi kitchen!
The only non-vegetarian dish we ordered was the Roasted Lamb Rump (£12.50) which came with labneh, artichoke, fresh peas and feta. Obviously I didn’t try this one personally but it got the thumbs up around the table from the two meat eaters, and there was nothing left on the plate by the end!
Our last dish of the night was the Tempura Courgette Flowers (£11.50) with ricotta, schneeflockli, truffle honey and walnuts. These were beautifully presented and perfectly cooked zucchini flowers, absolutely oozing with delicious cheesy goodness. This was also right up there for dish of the night, and Sean and I may have rather messily split the extra one as we both wanted more!
To round out the meal we chose a few goodies from the dessert table which is displayed in the window to tantalise passers by, but for some reason I didn’t actually photograph our choices! Needless to say they were all delicious and we left well and truly full to the brim!
Given my love for the Ottolenghi cookbooks I wasn’t surprised to love the food at his restaurant, but it was even better than I could have hoped. The staff were absolutely fantastic and ran us through the menu in great detail, including providing lots of information about what was suitable for my friend who is pregnant, and what changes they could make if need be – so helpful! It wasn’t a cheap meal but it was definitely an excellent one, and somewhere I would highly recommend you visit, but do be sure to book in advance for dinner!