What do you get the girl who already has two of everything for her birthday?
Well if she's a huge fan of Yotam Ottolenghi, you take her to Nopi for a glammed up lunch. If you are one of the few remaining people who hasn't yet heard of the lovely Mr O, he is currently the thinking vegetarian's favourite bit of chef. His recent appearance on Masterchef almost caused one of the semi-finalists to have an accident on national telly as she stared, agog and open mouthed, as he entered the room.
The man himself was present (I'm told he often is), slinking his way around the restaurant in a green cashmere sweater and keeping a reassuring eye on the kitchen. There is a genuinely lovely buzz about the place, perhaps partly due to the elegant, unpretentious decor which goes for a modern Middle-Eastern luxe vibe; blingy but not tacky.
We shared a selection from across the menu, of which the burrata with blood orange and coriander seeds (above) and softshell crab with green tea noodles and ponzu were the stand out favourites. If you go for pudding, my chocolate mousse with peanut brittle, mace and crème fraiche was a dense, intense chocolate lovers dream, but quite exhausted me in the process of eating it. My tablemate's doughnuts with plum wine anglaise, berry compote (above, note the tight grip on the plate..!) slipped down a treat. I hope she doesn't mind me recalling that some small moans of pleasure escaped as she ate.
Two of our group have already sworn to make a bi-monthly pilgrimage to Nopi. My wallet says no, but luckily my stomach usually makes the decisions.