I’ve never quite understood people who say they don’t like vegetables. I mean, there are SO MANY, surely, there are a few that you actually enjoy eating, right? But this sort of debate no longer matter as I’ve now found the best place for picky eaters to fall in love with vegetables (and for veggie lovers to have the best lunch ever!)!!
It is hardly a secret that Ottolenghi is one of the top food spots in Islington (queues don’t lie!). And just in case the fame wasn’t enough, they put all sorts of cakes in the windows (but we’ll come back to that latter)…
The restaurant itself isn’t much of a looker if you ask me. It just looks very clean and simple, loads of white, design chairs (which are surprisingly comfy!) and this pretty cool (because made of recycled cardboard!!) massive sculpture that covers the full length of the wall.
But before you get seated, you better get a good look at the goodies on offer that day!!I absolutely love the salad bar and would happily munch my way through it every day for lunch if that was an option.The vegetarian filo parcels looked pretty ace (that is, until I read the words “goat cheese”… I must be the only French person not liking cheese, but I really really can’t stomach it!)
And what about this sweet potato dish? Looking at the pictures, I kind of regret not ordering it…
But at the same time, the plate that was (very quickly) put in front of us was pretty much perfect? We went for the roast chicken leg (MASSIVE bit of meat!) with sides of the new potato salad (de-licious!), white cabbage, kale, carrot and grape slaw and roasted aubergine with yoghurt.
The chicken was perfectly cooked and very moist (plus the thigh was de-boned, which made it much easier to eat!!).The slaw was quite anis-ey, so if you’re not really into this, skip it. Luckily, this isn’t my case, and it was probably one of the best slaws I’ve had in London, thanks to the zingy orange dressing and the refreshing grapes which balanced the strong flavours of fennel seeds and cabbage perfectly. I absolutely love the potato salad as well. But the real winner on that plate is most certainly the roasted aubergine. If you still put aubergine on the list of the vegetables you don’t like, please do me (and yourself) a favour and grab a table at Ottolenghi for lunch ASAP. I promise it wil change your mind on aubergine, which much too often ends up overcooked/rubbery/chewy/greasy. Here, you’ll only get crispy skin and melt-in-the-mouth flesh and you’ll fell in love almost instantly.
I quite obviously couldn’t do this in a million years. Instead, I made the only responsible decision there is when faced with such a delicious-looking buffet: I ordered more cakes than we were people. Because I’m an adult and YOLO (but I’d use any excuse to eat cake, so if you have any I could be using next time, please send them my way!!).
Starting off with the Elderflower cheesecake topped with blackcurrant. The cheesecake at Ottolenghi are usually quite dense, but that’s the way I like them best so I was in cake-heaven!The Almond & Orange cake w/ Chocolate Ganache didn’t quite find its way to my heart as I found it to be a bit on the dry side (+ it wasn’t quite orang-ey enough for me compared to the other flavour-packed dishes!). The ganache was quite lovely though!(It seems I was taking too many pictures and SOMEBODY wasn’t really happy that he had to stop eating his cake!)Now let’s be serious for a second. If you’re as much of a peanut butter lover as I am, you MUST rush to your closest Ottolenghi and get one of their Smore’s. Or a dozen (definitely g for a dozen!!). They’re quite simply a peanut butter-lover dream come true: peanut butter and soft meringue sandwiched inbetween two crumbly peanut butter biscuits and covered in dark chocolate and crushed peanuts. Heaven. There’s also a small deli if you’re still feeling a bit peckish on your way out (we weren’t). But now that I look at the picture, I realise they’re also selling good tahini paste, which I’ve been looking for for ages. So I suppose I’ll HAVE TO go back some time this weekend to pick up a jar. And maybe a few more of those Smore’s…
What: The best roasted aubergine ever. Even our waitress couldn’t help but be excited when advising the lady sitting next to us who wasn’t sure if she should get the aubergine or the potato salad.
Tip: Don’t skip the cake. No diet is worth skipping cake at Ottonlenghi for. If you’re not very hungry, just have cake. or get some to take away (any excuse, really!)
How much: If you look at the prices on the menu, it might get scary pretty quickly. £17 for a plate with salad and chicken isn’t cheap. But the portions are MASSIVE (we shared it between the two of us and were both pretty full. And they don’t look at you weirdly for doing this, in case you wondered!), so you should end up paying around £15 per person with drinks, and cakes. Loads of cakes. Which really is not unreasonable at all!
Where: Ottolenghi, 287 Upper Street, London N1 2TZ