Saturday, July 9, 2016

Restaurant review: Ottolenghi, Spitalfields

I never thought I'd go to Ottolenghi. From seeing recipes in newspapers (mainly the Guardian) I had the impression it served mainly vegetarian food, with posh and unusual ingredients - the sort of thing where your main course might be a Jerusalem artichoke with courgette flowers. I'm not keen on many types of veg and am far more at home with carrots and cauliflower than edamame.

We'd only been back at work two days after our honeymoon when one of my best friends and my bridesmaid rang to say she'd booked a table for 4 at Ottolenghi in Spitalfields for that night - it's apparently hard to get a table so she'd booked it on spec ages ago, and did we want to go with her? A quick call to my husband to ask him to check the menu (as he's even more of a fussy eater than me) and we were set.

pear, walnut, Roquefort salad
The Spitalfields branch is a deli-cum-bar-cum-restaurant. The menu is split into two sections, 'from the counter' and 'from the kitchen'. The latter is hot dishes cooked to order, the former more deli-based and room temperature, so mainly salads, but weirdly the seared fillet of English beef with sweet coriander-mustard sauce my husband ordered was from the counter so wasn't served hot. I thought it was a bargain at £11 until the waitress explained people usually order two dishes (as nothing comes with a side). My husband had eaten a big lunch from a food market near his office, as we hadn't known at the time we were going out that evening, so didn't want anything else.

I had the grilled pear, mixed bitter leaves, spicy walnuts and Roquefort with pomegranate and balsamic dressing salad (£9.50) which I shared with my friend; it was delicious, and the nuts we had on the table to start were very more-ish. The salad and my husband's beef were brought out first and my hot main course came later, which wasn't quite how I intended to eat it but it's a very informal style of eating where you eat things as they come and share them around.

I had hake with shrimps as my main course - I had a look at the menu this morning to check the name of the dish and the menu on the website has changed, and we only ate there last night! It was really good if a little salty from the shrimps which I think were in a brown butter.

hake with shrimps

My schoolfriend, who is vegan, had the broccolini with dukkah, roasted red onion, tarragon and chilli (£9.50) and they also offered her a main course which wasn't on the menu. Her partner had a salad of courgette flowers and the pork belly as his main. I was tempted by a cocktail (since I hadn't been able to drink for half my honeymoon due to taking sea sickness tablets!) and had a pineapple and sage martini, which was amazing, followed by a glass of wine. For a deli-style impromptu dinner it ended up being pretty expensive, but was really good!

flourless chocolate and rum fondant cake

It was probably the wine that made me want dessert so I had the flourless chocolate and rum fondant cake - we'd had an amazing chocolate fondant on honeymoon as well (three times, it was so good!) so I think I was trying to hold on to some holiday memories too! It was very good - just gooey enough in the middle.

Ottolenghi has a lot of recipes on its website and you can buy some of the more hard to find ingredients in the delis and since the Spitalfields one is just across the road from where I work I think I will have to give one or two of them a go!


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