Last Saturday, I met an old friend who was in town at the Grocer on Elgin for lunch – unfortunately, their basement cafe was closed due to flooding (!). Luckily for me, my friend then whipped out a map and experted guided us to Ottolenghi – a delicatessen that I’ve been meaning to try for ages, especially since I saw their beautiful salads over at Notes by Naive.
The branch in Notting Hill is tiny – a long shop with a counter with loads of salads along one side and a single, large table at the end of the shop that seats only 10. In the window were multitudes of gorgeous cakes and pastries; I knew we had to save room for dessert!
After waiting about 20 minutes, we finally got seats at the communal table; of course, by then we’d already had a good perusal of everything on offer and had decided what we wanted. I had a selection of three salads: roast new potatoes with dried cherry tomatoes, olives, roast red onion, watercress and red chard; roast aubergine with chilli yoghurt, pine nuts, preserved lemon, pomegranate seeds and parsley; and broad beans and peas with smoked bacon, caramelized onion and parsley (£8.50). I’m not usually a big fan of salads as meals as many tend to be quite boring but those at Ottolenghi are not the usual lettuce mixes. I loved all the salads I’d chosen and only wished I had been more daring and chosen something other than the broad beans and peas as I make a similar dish at home. Oh well, another excuse to go back!
My friend had a main course of pizza (with tomato sauce, brie, parma ham among other nice things) with two salads: roast root vegetables with maple, citrus, parsley, black sesame seeds and rocket and couscous with red onion, peppers, coriander seed, pink peppercorn and wild organic blueberries (£11.50). Of his two salads, the couscous won out – the spicy peppercorns and sweet blueberries went surprisingly well together. Normally I’m not particularly excited by couscous but I could have eaten a bucketload of this stuff!
For dessert, we split a passion fruit curd meringue tart (£2.50) and a chocolate clafouti with peaches and blueberries (£3.50). The clear winner was the tart with its gorgeous passion fruit filling and light meringue spikes. The clafouti (what made it a clafouti? There was no fruit inside) was tasty but quite dry and the fruit wasn’t juicy enough to balance it out. Oh well, might try their chocolate caramel tart next time around!
Prices seemed reasonable though I know that it isn’t the cheapest around but the food is so awfully nice and so well made and is of such lovely ingredients that it’s hard to fault it. I just wish they’d buy up the shop next door and make more seating available!
63 Ledbury Road
London W11 2AD
Branches also in Islington and Kensington.