London 2013: Ottolenghi Notting Hill6/22/2013 07:47:00 PM
63 Ledbury Road
Ph: +44 20 7727 1121
I had two days in London, and I made three visits to Ottolenghi! As you could see from my post: The London Weekend, my little trip to London was all about food! I'm a huge fan of Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, having cooked many of their recipes (see my "Ottolenghi" label), and I was super excited to visit one of their cafes in real life! Spoiler alert: it looks just as lovely as the photos in their original cookbook!
I only visited the Notting Hill branch, which was less than a five-minute walk from my fab accommodation - perfect location! In my pre-trip research, I saw that the Notting Hill branch only has a small communal table, and was concerned that we'd struggle to get a seat on the weekend (scarred by Melbourne's constantly busy and queue-plagued cafe scene, perhaps?), and thought that we might be better off commuting to the Islington branch, which is apparently quite a bit bigger. However, after our first breakfast at Notting Hill on our first morning, I realised that it was quite low key, and that we wouldn't have a problem getting a seat there. Besides, there was certainly more than enough variety in the food to keep us occupied! (FYI there's also a branch in Kensington branch, which only does takeaway, and one in Belgravia which also has a small communal table).
Food photo time! This is the breakfast spread that was available on the Saturday morning, which they kept refilling and refreshing as the morning went on. Oh wow! Way too much to choose from - I was paralysed by indecision!
|Sweets and pastries at Ottolenghi Notting Hill|
|I want it all!|
|Latte - £2.50|
|Cappuccino - £2.50|
Much more exciting were the pastries. Clarice went for a muffin, which I believe was passionfruit, mango and coconut. (Apologies for not remembering exactly - it was a total sensory overload that day!) The muffin was moist and fluffy and totally delicious! One of the guys working there generously shouted us a rugelach each, when Clarice admired them as we were ordering. How sweet of him!
My carrot and walnut cake was ordered after much, much indecision.
|Carrot and Walnut Cake, Rugelach|
Let's have another look:
|Fluffy fluffy cake|
We'd gotten there at around ten-thirty, and as the morning wore on, we saw the trays and plates of their famous salads being brought out. Wow! Yup, the decision was made then - we'd definitely be back for lunch the next day. (And making sure that we arrived just before eleven-thirty, when the lunchtime takeaway crowd seems to descend on the tiny shop!)
|Omg! Amazing salads!|
The next morning I couldn't sleep in, so early in the morning I made a sneaky little solo expedition to Ottolenghi again, picking up a cappuccino and a pecan and milk chocolate cookie and having a walk around the area. (Hot tip: most shops seem to be closed at ten in the morning on Sundays).
|Milk chocolate and pecan cookie - £1.50 (I think!), Cappuccino|
Later that morning, there was just a short fifteen minute wait for a spot at the communal table, so we had another coffee and waited on the two stools just outside the front door.
|Double Espresso - £2.50|
I just had to sneakily snap another pic of the salads on our way through to our seats!
The salads and mains seem to be rotated every day and are sold by weight for takeaway. However, if you're eating in you can choose two or three salads, with or without a main (for the mains, think things like: seared beef fillet with watercress, horseradish and mustard sour cream; quinoa, feta and courgette arancini balls with saffron yogurt; or roasted free-range chicken with dried fig, rose, lemon and maple). We each went for salads with mains, making sure that we didn't order the same thing, so that we could share a little and try the widest variety possible!)
|Main with two salads - £13.70|
Sweet potato and courgette flower tortilla with sour cream and smoked paprika
Butterbean hummus with muhammara, walnuts and parsley
Roasted aubergine with feta yogurt, pickled cucumber, pink peppercorns and herbs
And here's my fab plate:
Now, while Clarice and I were enthusiastically ooh-ing and aah-ing over our fantastic meal, snapping photos on our phones and being generally thrilled with the experience, there was a couple next to us where the guy (an Aussie dude, incidentally) was totally disinterested. He'd come in with his girlfriend, who appeared to be a regular, and whilst she was tucking into lunch and trying to encourage him to have a nice morning, he just sipped on a coffee, complained about his hangover, and looked at the food like it was from another planet, saying loudly: "I wouldn't wish that stuff on my enemy!" Sorry, you wouldn't wish delicious, creative and thoughtfully prepared meals, made with high quality ingredients and served with a smile on your enemies? Pff! Funnily enough, this theme of us sitting next to totally disinterested people at wonderful restaurants continued throughout the weekend - so I'll tell you more as I blog the meals.
Of course, we had to have a little something sweet as well. Clarice went for the Persian love cake, which was a moist, dense, almost marzipanny little loaf of almond cake, served with a little dollop of cream and a pretty sprinkling of green pistachio pieces.
|Persian Love Cake - £3.00|
I chose a white chocolate cheesecake. The dense, creamy, vanilla-flecked cheesecake mixture was encased in a crisp shortcrust pastry, and topped with contrasting sharp blueberries. It was really decadent and luscious - mega love!
|White chocolate cheesecake tartlet - £4.40|
So that was Ottolenghi! Obviously it totally lived up to my hyped-up expectations, and I'm so glad that we made repeat visits over the weekend! Total deliciousness. On the way out, I couldn't resist picking up a bag of "salt caramel chocolate brittle", which I hand-carried from London to Paris, to Strasbourg, to Offenburg, to Lampertheim, through Dubai and finally back to Melbourne!
|Salt caramel and chocolate brittle|
It's kinda like a lavosh cracker, topped with thin layers of crunchy salted caramel and dark chocolate, and sprinkled with crisp hazelnut brittle. I've kept it in an airtight container, and have slowly, slowly been picking at it since we came home, trying to extend the holiday!
We also made a visit to Ottolenghi's restaurant, Nopi, on our first night in London - so keep an eye out for that post!