With a fascinating Fusion-Med menu, the dishes on offer at Nopi are likely to catch the attention of most diners looking to try something out of the ordinary.
The starters, more accurately described as gourmet tapas, are hit and miss. Some, like the duck breast with red quinoa and hazelnut beer butter, the scallops with sea spaghetti shiitake, and the baked cod with squid ink are as they should be: short, sweet and delicious. Others, like the twice-cooked baby chicken – dry and disappointing – or the roasted aubergine with burnt butter and tzatziki – remarkably dull in both name and nature and saved only by a few nuts and pomegranate seeds – failed to live up to Nopi’s promise as a distinctive eatery.
In contrast to the highly variable starters, the mains were unanimously average. The mushrooms on the side are the best thing about the sirloin steak, which is otherwise lacking in flavour, and, dare I say it, salt. Your critic’s last restaurant meal– a highly recommended and delicious slice of cow at New Street Grill – most likely ruined it for him. The lemon sole with burnt butter and nori is like breakfast from Tuesday three weeks ago: edible, appreciated, but very easily forgotten.
Desert was breakfast from Wednesday three weeks ago: like the lemon sole but eaten afterwards. The popcorn ice cream was literally a scoop of (high quality) dairy ice cream with a dozen spicy toffee popped corn kernels served next to it in a side dish. Pleasant, but anticlimactic. The logic behind the choice – it might be an ingenious fusion dish impossible to experience elsewhere and unlike the blackcurrant sorbet, is unavailable in a tub from Waitrose – failed. The lychee Eton mess was better, but the novelty of using an ‘unusual’ tropical fruit did not pack enough of a punch to counter the unforgettable version of the dish on offer at Bibigo, a Korean restaurant in Soho.
Some of the starters should be mains and some of the mains are thoroughly middling. Do you get what you pay for? Only if it goes on the company card, which in this case, it did.