12 April 2015

platters of goodness

F O O D & P L A C E S ||

Why do I look so happy? Because my belly had just been filled with Ottolenghi goodness when Ellie took this photo. Ottolenghi is one of those places I've had on my list for a very long time, but never had the patience to wait to dine in. To me, Yotam Ottolenghi is one of the best London-based chefs - his cooking genuinely celebrates fruit and vegetables, serving them in the most creative and majestic ways. I challenge any hardcore meat-enthusiast to taste one of his dishes and not come out thinking: wow, what was that vegetable delight that was actually tasty and filling?! You may not come out wanting to become a vegetarian, but you will come out starting to appreciate how [when cooked well and with real thought] vegetables can become the star of any dish. Really glad the long easter weekend meant that Ellie and I could have a lazy and delicious lunch at such a special little spot.

On entering the Ottolenghi Islington branch, you are immediately hit with platters on platters on platters of colour and delicious smells. Salads of all varieties and patisserie of all shapes and sizes are piled up high. You quickly join the queue to eat in [we were told about a 20 minute wait] and your mouth starts to salivate at the options staring right at you. Though you do have to wait a while to be seated, the staff are really attentive and professional - plus you get the extra time to make your decisions [because trust me, it will take a while to make up your mind with all those temptations and better to do it while you can see the food than when you're sat away from it!].

for starters. //

As soon as we were seated, we kicked off lunch with the selection of Ottolenghi breads - sourdough, cornbread, italian white and focaccia with extra virgin olive oil. A good selection overall - the focaccia stood out, it was incredible! After spotting 'orange wine' on the drinks list, I also got the chance to try something new out. I'm glad I tried but have to admit it must be an acquired taste - I didn't really enjoy so would definitely recommend trying before you commit. We ended up with a glass each of the Lambrusco Ferrando, a lovely, light and cloudy prosecco.

for mains. //

Ellie went for the selection of three salads - [1] roasted aubergine with sorrel yoghurt, turmeric pickled radish, spring onion and almonds [2] roasted sweet potato with burnt aubergine yoghurt, basil, caramelised seeds and nuts [3] roasted cauliflower with peanut yoghurt, coriander, spicy peanuts and Aleppo chilli.

I chose the two salads with main - [1] mixed green beans, broad beans and peas with toasted coconut, mint and lemon zest [2] turmeric rice and toasted buckwheat with lemongrass, pak choi and mung bean sprouts [3] char-grilled salmon with green harissa and lemon yoghurt

I really enjoyed my dish - am now a big fan or the turmeric rice [it was packed full of flavour] and was also won over by the green harissa on the salmon. The whole dish gave off fresh and exciting flavours of the mediterranean. Just looking at these plates is making me hungry again.

for desserts. //

Ellie chose the baked chocolate tart with caramel, honeycomb & sweet mascarpone.

I opted for the rhubarb and ginger cheesecake.

After such a big main we had both picked some heavy desserts but didn't really care because they were worth it. The chocolate tart was small but super rich and full of chocolate goodness. The cheesecake was creamy with the sharp rhubarb and spicy ginger cutting through - not too sweet, a great balance. Both desserts were the perfect luxurious end to a lovely meal.

the atmosphere. //

The only way I can describe the dining atmosphere in Ottolenghi is a modern and spacious home. Although Ellie and I managed to get a date-table [really comfy chairs by the way], the centre piece of the room was a long dining tables where a mixture of groups, families, couples and friends sat dining alongside each other. Looking down the dining room and out the french doors you can see the neighbour's back garden. Although there is a buzzy restaurant vibe, the overarching feeling I got was as if I was sitting in Yottam Ottolenghi's Islington kitchen / dinning room with a bunch of friends. Really relaxed and open. There's also no dessert menu so after the main meal, you have to get up to browse the desserts, which I enjoyed. The only surreal bits about the whole experience was [1] when a couple of little girls came in with clipboards asking us for charity donations - a little odd but we went with it [2] the bathrooms are unisex [which is fine on its own] but the doors are frosted glass which means you can see the outlines of people [I was fine with this but can imagine others may want a heads up!]

ladies who brunch ootd. //

me / right: 
jumper, dress & bag [ +H&M ]
scarf [ present from Mauritius ]
high-top trainers [ +adidas ]
hat [ from school - that's right ]

all in all, it was an excellent brunch with good company and great food!


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