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|Address:||21-22 Warwick Street, London W1B 5NE|
|Tel:||020 7494 9584|
|Price: £65.00||Wine: £23.00||Champagne: £45.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Fri 8am-2.45pm 5.30-10.15pm Sat 10-11.30am 12N-5.30pm 5.30-10.15pm Sun 10am-4pm|
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I had very high expectations of Nopi – but was slightly disappointed. We started on the wrong foot, as my dining companion and I were about 10 minutes early, and were simply sent away to come back at the right time – there was no room at the bar and, although some tables were free, we weren't offered a seat, even just to have a drink. The greeter was perfectly friendly, but it didn't exactly put me in the right frame of mind!
However, once we were seated, things got better. The bread, which came with a spiced broad bean dip, was gorgeous – as was our waiter. It is hard not to think that Nopi is following in the Abercrombie & bFirch footsteps of only putting the beautiful people on show. The service was as lovely as the man serving – very charming, friendly and winning.
The food was just downright delicious – they recommend 3 choices each, which I would heartily recommend, as the portions are not generous. But the flavours are spot on. We had an aubergine tart – the aubergines dried like tomatoes, with a very deep, almost sweet flavour, with some creamy mozzarella and fresh basil on a crisp pastry rectangle; broccoli with chilli (this was a revelation – the best, absolutely the best, broccoli I have ever eaten, with crispy chillies shredded on top); soft shell crab; trout; chicken with myrtle salt and a chilli dip; and braised pigs cheeks. The last was the least exciting – nothing wrong with the execution, taste or texture, but it was a bit like eating a large spoonful of casserole after a feast of much lighter, crisper textures and flavours.
For pud we shared doughnuts – which were small and scrumptious, with a vanilla cream and berry dip; and coffee financiers (albeit in the shape of madeleines, not ingots) with a maple syrup dip. Both were gorgeous. A glass of wine each, and tap water, and the bill was about £60 a head – if you splashed out on the wine, or ordered a couple more dishes, you would rack the bill up without even noticing.
The restaurant is a pleasant space, but one of the loudest I've ever eaten in – everything is hard – tiled or brick walls; paper tablecloths (too much mess for linen, presumably – linen napkins, though); metal lamps – nothing to soften the noise at all.
So, would I go back? Yes, provided I could arrive dead on time, wasn't enormously hungry, and had cards in my handbag to hold up to my companion when the noise proved too much.