On Saturday night we set off towards Angel with much excitement about eating at Ottolenghi where I have been eager to dine for some time now.
I managed to nab a booking, via email late on Friday for 6:30 the following day for 4 people. Upon arrival the waitress denied all knowledge of any booking and asked whether I had a print out of the confirmation email. Three emails in fact I had received but printed none however I remembered the persons name, Basia, a detail which drew blank looks when offered.
It didn’t look good, a full restaurant and apparently no booking. We were offered a table at the bar area, for 2 not 4 and were informed that should we accept we would be taking a table that the manager would usually sit at to eat her dinner, for this we should have been grateful?
In the end, after all this, they managed to find a table for the 4 of us. We settled down with a bottle of merlot and ordered one dish from the counter and one from the kitchen each.
I started with the Grilled Aubergine with walnuts and pomegranate. When I had my first forkful, I was delighted with the taste combination. I would never have dreamed up this amalgamation of flavours and textures. The soft aubergine was perfectly complemented by the crunch of the walnuts and the sweet pop of the pomegranate seeds. I loved this.
Thomas had the Beef which was melt in the mouth tender and faultless.
The presentation of the dishes is appealing to the eye, Fabi was pleased with the Butternut Squash from the counter and Svenja had the Spicy Aubergine.
When the dished from the Kitchen arrived I think we were all a little taken aback by the portion sizes, considering the prices they are very much on the small side. Having said that everything I tried was delicious and so worth the price when considering the quality and freshness of the ingredients.
My main dish was the Monkfish with Chorizo and Mango which was probably the smallest of them all. The tartness of the mango and piquancy of the chorizo did overshadow the monkfish which did not really hold it’s own.
Thomas’ Duck main was more pleasing served with Cashews, Sweet Potato Puree and Pak Choi. The duck was cooked perfectly and the dish was much more rounded with meat, carb and vegetable elements to it but again, the portion was disappointingly small. Fabi too went for the duck.
Svenja was particularly pleased with her from the kitchen dish of Mushroom Pearl Barley. It’s interesting how barley is being used instead of rice more and more these days. On a visit to Saf last year I had a Pearl Barley Risotto, I have always loved it in casseroles and stews and welcome the less traditional use of it in other types of dishes.
The only good thing that can be said about the diddy sizes of the dishes from the kitchen is that there is of course room left for dessert. The array of sweet treats is the first thing to greet diners upon arrival with displays of cakes, pastries and meringues at the front of the restaurant.
Between us we had the Carrot and Walnut Cake, Chocolate Torte, Toffee and Macadamia Nut Cheesecake and a Fruit Tarte. They were all very good with special mention reserved for the Cheesecake, in my opinion the finest of those we tried.
The idea of this place in hindsight is to get a number or dishes to share, this would be much more sensible but didn’t seem obvious looking at the menu. The salads looked glorious too on the front counters and I only wished there was a branch in central London so that I could pay a visit come lunchtime. It was a suitable venue to celebrate Earth Hour but considering the booking mix up, and the fact that we were given the wrong bill (and subsequently charged a further £50, taking the price per head, with wine and service to £35) means that I probably shall not hurry back for dinner.
287 Upper St, Angel