It’s always nice to be able to find some time to catch up with a girlfriend, especially after a rough week. And we knew exactly where to go, thanks to D’s prolific knowledge on where’s where, to gripe, bitch, laugh, moan, gossip about everything under the sun.
We arrived at Ottolenghi (North London branch) at about 3pm, and were met with a line of like-minded diners at the queue for a table. You see, reservations are only taken for dinner, and not at any other times of the day. Waiting in line wasn’t a problem for us though; our incessant chatting had begun. It helped to have platters of meats, and salads, and cakes in the vicinity of the queue. I admit it, I was ogling whilst chatting.
I first heard of Ottolenghi, right about 5 years ago, when I started dating M. He was spending his birthday in London, and I was in Singapore yearning to celebrate with him. I asked his good friend to get a cake for him on my behalf, and he went along to Ottolenghi in Notting Hill to get M’s favourite chocolate fondant cake. Months later, I found myself in London for my graduation trip, and M took me to Ottolenghi to get a slice of chocolate goodness. I remember the queue was insanely long, even for tea, so we ended up taking the cake back to his apartment. My first bite did more than a good job at explaining the queue.
I was happy to return to Ottolenghi, 5 years later, this time with D. Everything looked positively scrumptious and I couldn’t wait to be seated. About 45 minutes later, we were shown to our table, and we quickly ordered our very late lunches. Being a fan of meat, it was a no-brainer for me to go for the perfectly pink beef fillet. I usually detest vegetables, but lunch options came with two salads to go with the main, so I went for the green bean salad and roasted aubergines with saffron yoghurt and pine nuts.
D wanted the bacon quiche, but it ran out, so she settled for grilled salmon and picked roasted jersey potatoes with saffron, garlic and parsley, and grilled peaches topped with goat’s cheese and orange blossom dressing for her sides. Everything was really, really good. Even the vegetables, and that’s saying something because I erm, hate them.
The beef fillet was incredibly tender and moist, and I loved the kick of the horseradish sauce. The green bean salad was very refreshing, and I absolutely loved the roasted aubergines, so creamy, and flavoursome with the yoghurt. I am a huge fan of pine nuts, and those added a divine touch to the aubergines. I had a taste of D’s grilled peach salad and I loved it too. Sweet, slightly charred and sticky, and savoury with a touch of salt sprinkled over the peaches, it worked well with the goat’s cheese. The roasted potatoes gave us a much needed carbo boost, and a fragrant one at that as it was roasted with saffron.
D decided to sum up her lunch with a vanilla and almond financier topped with blackberries and mascarpone cream. We’ve never heard of, let alone had a financier before (sounds like some errr…financial jargon to me), but it looked too pretty and delish to pass an opportunity at it. And it was good. Moist, much like a heavier sponge cake, very nutty and fragrant.
I made a beeline for the lime cheesecake topped with strawberries and strawberry sauce. I always, always have a weakness for lime cheesecakes, there’s something magical about a citrusy and creamy combination that I love. And this didn’t disappoint at all! It was tangy enough to get the salivary glands all worked up, and creamy enough for me to go mmmmm for inappropriate lengths of time. I would have bought one for M, who was working at home, but they ran out!
It was a good day out. The generous amounts of sun, catching up with a close friend, being away from work, good food and sweets to indulge in at a rather affordable price, I wish every weekend could be this perfect!
Ottolenghi is located at:
287 Upper Street
London N1 2TZ