Sat 26th September 2015

It’s finally the day! I’ve been dying to visit an Ottolenghi restaurant for a couple of years now. I found Yotam Ottolenghi an extremely fascinating chef, who moved to the UK from Isreal in 1997 with the plan to start a PhD, but ended up signing up to a six-month course at Le Cordon Bleu cookery school in London (and never looked back). Shameful to admit that we haven’t managed to make it happen—not sure why—until tonight. Tonight, my husband and I are dining at Ottolenghi Islington—finally taking advantage of a generous wedding gift from my husband’s ex-boss and his wife (thank you so much Dan and Kate!)

Some may call it a posh deli, no more than an overpriced salad bar. Yes, it has received a lukewarm review or two in the past—I’ve read them—but did not let them put me off. Boy, am I glad I didn’t. As soon as I walked in the door I was impressed by what I saw—a beautiful window display full of sweet treats—a real feast for the eyes. Don’t let the no-fuss, friendly atmosphere fool you. The setting may be somewhat casual, you may get assigned to sit at the long communal tables, shared with other guests (yes, I can see how this can be far from ideal for some). But foods here are far from simple. 15 tapas-style savoury dishes on offer tonight—7 form the counter (cold dishes); 8 from the kitchen (hot plates)—they mean serious business. All are the result of serious consideration of balanced flavours, food rooted in Ottolenghi’s native Israeli upbringing, influenced by a wider range of incredible textures and flavours from the Mediterranean, Middle East and Asia. Small portions; huge flavours. Continue reading “Ottolenghi”