In an effort to see this ending in a good light I will take the advice of Orson Welles:
“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.”So this story will end with a fabulous meal at Nopi...
As I had heard rave reviews about this restaurant and have frequently read Ottolenghi's recipes in the guardian, I was looking forward to a visit. I made the booking for November back in June, so there was a lot of anticipation time.
We started with a cocktail at Milk & Honey. This is a members only bar, but I think it's worth it if you have enough pennies (I do not...but I was quite happy to go along with someone who did). It came in at number 5 in the list of the world's best bars. The membership isn't as expensive as I would expect and they do have a deal if you're 30 or under. It's nice to find a quiet cosy place in the middle of Soho on a Friday night. The service is impeccable and the venue is dark and quiet. I only had the chance to see two of the rooms but I know it has much more to offer. I have been twice and both times had “The Business”. It is a tart, simple drink with gin, honey, and lime. Simple and lovely.
We then walked five minutes through Soho to find Nopi. Nopi's interior juxtaposed that of Milk & Honey. It is bright and shiny...not cosy, but exciting and fresh. Oh and the loo...definitely go to the loo. Just don't have too much to drink before you go (you might not be able to find your way out particularly if you are overly intoxicated) ;)
...I had been looking forward to this meal for the previous month and had drooled over the menu earlier in the day so was nibbling the bread served with a cheesy mix of feta and chilli while my companion perused the menu.
We started with a lovely bottle of white wine:
Rayon, Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle from Vallée d’Aoste, Italy 2010
We decided on 2 veg, 2 fish, 2 meat, 1 dessert...
Crispy baby squid, almond tarator, lime relish
Simple and crispy, just how it should be...
Valdeón cheesecake, pickled mushrooms, truffle honey
This was fantastic. Everything worked together, subtle flavours.
Fondant swede, savoy cabbage, Caerphilly cheese.
Very comforting...nice but heavy.
Twice-cooked baby chicken, lemon myrtle salt, chilli sauce
Simple...flavourful. Loved the salt and chilli sauce.
Miso quail, grapes, verjuice and honey
Amazing. The sweetness of the grapes and the honey contrasted well with the miso quail.
Chargrilled octopus, salmorejo sauce, morcilla
Loved this...we were full by the time it arrived, but I really enjoyed it AND I got to eat most of it.
Blackcurrant sorbet, cassis liqueur
Any man that would allow the two fish options to be squid AND octopus has clearly found the key to my heart...In exchange, I allowed him to order this blackcurrent sorbet with cassis liquor. Blackcurrent flavour (the artificial one to be specific) is a British taste that just doesn't do it for me. Ribena, no thank you. However, I assumed that if I was going to enjoy it Nopi would be the place. And indeed, it was refreshing and delicious.
I really enjoyed Nopi. The atmosphere and the food. I was worried we would feel rushed as the two-hour time limit was emphasized in my reservation, but it was perfectly timed. Even with an espresso at the end. I also love the small plates. It's perfect for a date. You learn so much: do they have adventurous tastes or are they picky, do they know how to share, are they willing to give up their half if you really love the dish, etc. It's perfect for finding these things out so you don't waste too much time with them in the future! I will definitely be back. The total was £65 each...about what I had expected. Too expensive for frequent visits, but a great option for a special night out.
“I always wanted a happy ending… Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.” –Gilda Radner (1946 – 1989)