Ottolenghi’s Restaurant – Islington, London

Another date night and after taking Dan to Casa Paco in Madrid last month, it was my turn to be treated.  Having eaten in Bala Baya a couple of weeks ago, we found out that the chef there used to work for Ottolenghi’s Restaurant.  It’s a restaurant I’ve always wanted to go to and Yotam Ottolenghi is a chef I really admire.  I drool over his recipes on a daily basis and love the flavour combinations he creates.   He is an Israeli chef and opened his first deli in 2002.  He has since opened 4 further delis and created restaurant space in each of them as well as opening an online shop.  His cooking style has a strong Mediterranean Influence but also draws from many other cuisines from Middle Eastern to Asian!    We decided to head to the nearest Ottolenghi’s Restaurant to us, the one in Islington.  There are 5 locations, all over London but we decided to go local.  Dan had called ahead and asked for a table for two as we’d heard that most of the tables there are large sharing tables so you eat with other people.  I quite like the idea of this, but not for our romantic Date Night so we were pleased when we got shown to our private table.Ottolenghi Restaurant Islington by Emma Eats & Explores

I explained my dietary requirements to the waitress and she quickly handed me the gluten-free menu.  Although I also avoid other foods, gluten-free is a great place to start and I can quickly spot if there’s anything further that I need to avoid!  It takes a lot of the guess-work out over what is in the sauces and dressings etc!  It’s great to know that a restaurant like this caters very well to a gluten-free diet!  And very thoughtfully, when Dan was brought bread and olive oil to dip it into, they brought me a small bowl of mixed nuts to nibble on while we looked at the menu.

The concept of the menu is that everything is designed to share (this seems to be a real trend at the moment).  Sharing plates are great because you get to taste a little bit of everything and I’m the kind of person who always wants to try everyone else’s dishes anyway!  Half of the dishes are cold and half are hot.  All the cold ones are available in the deli at the front of the restaurant to take-away or have delivered!  There’s also a huge array of tempting cakes, desserts and pastries if you’re in the mood for something sweet!  It’s a very interesting menu as the food is true to Ottolenghi’s ethos and inspired by cuisines from all over the world.  Middle Eastern ingredients such as the date puree make an appearance alongside miso and soy and even the obviously British seared beef with mustard!

We Started with a glass of the Sauvignon Blanc while we decided which dishes to order.  It was crisp, fruity and refreshing and a really nice way to begin the meal.  We had been told to pick about 5 dishes between us and I was spoilt for choice.  We ended up having to pick 6 because we just couldn’t decide!  I really wanted some of the vegetarian ones but Dan tends to prefer the meatier ones so we compromised on 2 meat, 2 fish and 2 veggie and he could eat most of the meat ones!

We also ordered a bottle of the Le Fole, Aglianico, 2011.  It was quite a fresh, acidic wine with strong tannins.  More red fruit flavours than black, almost cranberry-like and it would go really well with the meats that we’d ordered.

We started withe Roasted Aubergine (Eggplant) with Cumin Yoghurt, Coconut, Herb Oil and Chilli and the Roasted Cauliflower and Romanesco with Buffalo Ricotta, Capers, Date Puree and Pine Nuts.  I pushed for both of these dishes as they’re really not Dan’s thing at all.  I loved the sound of the first one.  The cumin yoghurt and coconut sounded really interesting and I’m loving everything aubergine (eggplant) recently.  It really seems to be making a resurgence on the dining scene and when it’s char-grilled, the smoky earthy flavour is delicious.  As expected, the yoghurt, coconut and chilli combination was fantastic and really zinged up the aubergine – I  might go so far as to say it was my favourite dish of the night!  The cauliflower dish appealed to me as I liked the sound of the sweet date puree, with the rich ricotta and tangy capers.  It really was delicious – this is a great restaurant for vegetarians (not that I am one anymore!)  So many more exciting options than the standard mushroom risotto!  All the flavours were really interesting and different and put together in a very clever way.

Next up came the Yellow fin, Line Caught Seared Tuna with Mixed Sesame Seeds and Soy, Honey, Spring Onion and Ginger Sauce and also the Seared Fillet of English Beef with Sweet Coriander and Mustard Sauce.  These two dishes were all about the quality of the meat and the fish and we couldn’t fault it.  The tuna was perfectly cooked, just seared on the outside and completely rare in the middle and it melted in your mouth.  I couldn’t have the sauce but I didn’t need it, I was happy with the fish on its own, enjoying the taste of the fresh tuna.  The beef was similarly cooked (extremely rare) which is perfect for me.  It too, was so tender and juicy and full of flavour and the sauce that it came with really gave it a kick.  These dishes showed off the quality of the ingredients to the max and you can tell that Ottolenghi’s Restaurant really cares about sourcing great food.

All the cold dishes finished, it was time for the hot ones.  First up was the Char-grilled Octopus with Rose Harissa, Golden Raisins, Tapenade and Kale.  The octopus was so sweet and tender and I loved how it was cooked with the Middle Eastern flavours.  I love harissa and tapenade so this one was a no-brainer.  The kale was nice and tender and not tough as it sometimes can be, and the raisins added a touch of sweetness to the dish.Ottolenghi Restaurant Islington by Emma Eats & Explores


Finally we’d ordered the Smoked Lamb Rump, Charred Hispi cabbage, Dried Shrimps and Oregano.  The one Dan had been waiting for!  The lamb was beautifully tender and cooked nice and pink and the fresh oregano sauce was delicious.  A dish well worth waiting until the end for!Ottolenghi Restaurant Islington by Emma Eats & Explores
Feeling full, we decided to finished with a whisky each to relax before it was time to leave.  We both agreed that all the dishes had been very inventive and that the flavour balances were spot-on.  It really was one of the best and most different meals I’ve had in a long time.  I’d come back for the aubergine dish alone and now that I know they sell it as a take-away I’m going to be here every weekend stocking up. Ottolenghi’s Restaurant also does a fabulous brunch but you can’t book and it gets busy so get there early!  We’re going to give it a go sometime soon so watch this space for more info…

Pin it for laterOttolenghi Restaurant Islington by Emma Eats & Explores


69 Comments Add yours

  1. tami298 says:

    Ooh, the food looks yummy! 🙂 Great review!

  2. This sounds like an awesome restaurant for a date night. The pictures look very delicious as well.

  3. food looks tasty! does he actually cook at the restaurant?

    1. emmaeatsandexplores says:

      He spends most of his time in the test kitchen I think, coming up with new recipes – not sure that he cooks in the restaurants!

  4. tara pittman says:

    I like that they brought nuts for you. Sounds like a yummy place to eat.

  5. fashionbeyondforty says:

    I am a barbarian lol I love sharing plates and eating with my hands 🙂 This place looks great and it is nice they cater to specific diets!

  6. all this food makes me hungry. such beautiful pictures

  7. KizimKouture says:

    Everything sounds delicious. It sounds like you had a brilliant date night.

  8. wow this such a yummy review, and def makes me want to try this restaurant!

  9. Oh that looks great and perfect that it caters for dietary requirements too!

  10. lba14525 says:

    Emma, I want to be you! You eat at the greatest places and share fabulous pictures. Thank you for always making me hungry.

  11. Scott says:

    It’s been decades since I’ve been to London. I don’t remember any of the food looking this great! Glad to see it has changed!

  12. ERF Mama says:

    Oh heavens that’s a lot of yum on an empty tum! I absolutely LOVE LAMB!!! So I am biased there. :p The food looks great and the set up and presentation is fab!

  13. What a fun place to go eat! I agree with your choice to request a private table for two. That’s wonderful that your husband was willing to try some of the dishes you wanted but he didn’t particularly care for. Eggplant (aubergine) is delicious. My boys love when I make the fried eggplant parmigiana. 🙂

  14. Yum! The food looks amazing! I need to take a trip there ASAP!

  15. Sarah Bailey says:

    Those dishes were very delectable especially the mouth watering Char-grilled Octopus and Smoked Lamb Rump. Looks like food of the Gods.

  16. We love that everything has been designed to share! My folks eat each other’s dinners as well 😉 food looks good x

  17. Michelle says:

    oooh looks so yum! So sad I missed this when I was in London!

  18. Wow the food looks very tasty. Lovely photos.

  19. What a lovely place to eat out. I love the sharing aspect too 🙂

  20. Jen says:

    Looks delicious. I didn’t know of any restaurant who has a gluten-free menu. Very nice.

  21. Donna Ashworth says:

    This all looks fabulous I have to say and great that they catered so well for your needs!

  22. Lorena says:

    It looks you had great time and everything is so yummy I miss the octopus so much!!!

  23. Great review – good to see restaurants recognise people have very different dietary requirements x

  24. Oh man, this food looks so good! I could totally get into a menu like that!

  25. I am hungry but now I need to go and eat asap!! Lovely pictures, everything looks so tasty 🙂

  26. Talya says:

    Oh my goodness the food looks delicious and it looks like a fab place for a date night will have to put this on my list of places to try!

  27. porcheberry says:

    Exploring restaurants is always an adventure. One my stomach typically likes!

  28. Not been to this restaurant before, the food looks very nice

  29. Sophie says:

    Sounds and looks like a lovely restaurant, and so accommodating. Will bookmark for when I’m in the area!

  30. Danielle says:

    Sounds like you got the perfect date night! I love the idea of sharing dishes and we typically do that whether they’re meant to be a la carte or not haha. This place looks perfect for a romantic dinner.

  31. The food looks very tasty. I like the sound of this restaurant.

  32. ChelseaMamma says:

    the food looks amazing, hubby dragged me to GBK when we went to London……..I am choosing next time

    1. emmaeatsandexplores says:

      lol definitely!! There are muuuuuch better places to go than GBK 🙂

  33. RUSS says:

    I’m not surprised that you really liked it here. Everything looks delish. Your post gives me the impression that they have a good selection wine – plus cookie points for that.

  34. colleen wool says:

    I want to visit here. The food looked delicious.

  35. annalisanuttall says:

    This look like a very nice restaurant. I must visit. xx

  36. I’m surely adding it to my list of places to go to in Madrid. It looks amazing

    1. emmaeatsandexplores says:

      The restaurant is in London, not Madrid!

  37. Amber says:

    Everything does look amazing! I love to eat, and I love the presentation of all the dishes.

  38. Coralie says:

    This looks like an amazing place to eat. I am putting on my life of places to try when we travel over there. Thanks!

  39. Chloe says:

    I really love your blogs, it makes me want to go on a date night every night! Can’t wait to get over there to try out some of these places!

  40. oh man, all that looks amazing! i could go for just about all that right now.

  41. This place looks delish! I haven’t been to London in a few years, but I enjoyed the food when I was there, for sure!

  42. chei says:

    Oh this is making me hungry! Looks so amaaaaaaazing!

  43. I like the idea of sharing dishes as you can try and sample a lot more things x

    1. emmaeatsandexplores says:

      me too – I always get food envy when i see other people’s dishes!

  44. Joanna says:

    I like the idea of sharing plates, it’s the best way of getting to share as much as possible from a restaurant’s menu. The food at Ottolenghi looks so yummy, especially the tuna steaks.

  45. Dannii says:

    The sauce for the tuna sounds amazing – I love ginger on tuna. Everything looks so delicious.

  46. Elizabeth O. says:

    Looks like this place is worth going to! The food definitely doesn’t disappoint.

  47. natalielovesbeauty says:

    Roasted aubergine is so good! I like adding some to my lasagna, it gives it such a nice flavour.

  48. TheLondonMum says:

    That food looks amazing! And how thoughtful to bring you a bowl of nuts too x

  49. featherflint says:

    Those combinations are so unique & sound so delicious! I love his cookbooks, would love to try one of his restaurants someday!

  50. loveyoumoretoo says:

    Everything looks so yummy! I still haven’t been to London, but it is on my bucket list.

  51. Kira C says:

    I really love the idea of the meals being chosen to share! I always want to try other peoples foods too or never know what to choose myself so this would be perfect!

  52. Amy says:

    Oh my goodness! I feel like you I’m globetrotting too and these meals are so delectable 🙂 I have a sweet tooth myself so I would be eyeing the desserts 😉 lol

  53. Anosa says:

    The foods looks so delicious! I need to check this out with my friend. Hopefully we can easily have a reservation when we like to visit already.

  54. Looks delicous I’m getting hungry now.

  55. Sarah Bailey says:

    Seems like this is a fantastic restaurant and you truly enjoyed your experience here. The food sounds fantastic and it’s wonderful that they were able to cater to your dietary needs so well. The lamb dish in particular looks so delicious x

  56. It’s great they actually have a gluten free menu rather than just an odd choice. The food looks unusual and incredible.

  57. The food there looks amazing. Looks like I shall be heading off to visit soon. Really want to try that seared tuna, yum!

  58. It really looks tasty! I want to go in the restaurant like this. Glad that you share this with us

  59. This place sounds awesome! I love menus that cater to a sharing / family style meal. the seared beef sounds and looks delicious!

  60. What a gorgeous place! The food looks amazing, I’d love to visit for a meal x

  61. Wow! Looks like you had a great time and the food there sure looks tasty!

  62. diybutterflyblog says:

    Wow! This sounds and looks like an amazing meal! Wish I was in London so I could go and experience it myself!

  63. I liked your motive, Eats and Explores. Hope you should be enjoying. Great food.

  64. ZyraKuma says:

    The tender beef looks so delicious! Food looks tasty and all. Wish I could go there! 🙁

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