The only good thing about the recent pandemic and staying at home was that I was able to dust-off my several Ottolenghi cookbooks and treat myself to a delicious meal at home. So you can imagine how excited we were when we were recently invited to review Ottolenghi's ROVI, a neighbourhood restaurant which is nestled in the peaceful streets behind London's Oxford Street. I say peaceful streets, however, his reputation ensured that the restaurant was buzzing with eager diners!
ROVI is one of Yotam Ottolenghi's youngest restaurants with a menu focusing on vegetables, the flavours of fermentation and cooking over open-fire which all come together to form an Ottolenghi eatery with a difference. Serving up from brunch until late, ROVI's dome-shaped dining room encourages long conversations over all of the classic Ottolenghi flavours and new ones, too. At the heart of the dining room is an oval cocktail bar for both drinkers and diners, and a carefully curated cocktail menu.
We started our evening with an inventive cocktail based on seasonal spices and house shrubs. The PIÑA Y PIÑA was a mixture of ROVI coal-roasted pineapple Ocho blanco tequila & QuiQuiRiQui mezcal, citrus, tajin, agave, ginger - fresh yet tangy while the HIGHBALL NO.3 featured ROVI blood orange Ramsbury single estate vodka, cranberries, citrus was a sweeter option. To enjoy alongside our cocktails we ordered some "Nibbles" the Beef Kofta with citrus amba, garlic labneh was succulent and the trout Crudo with meyer lemon and winter radish was refreshing and a great palate cleanser - although when they arrived they were definitely more generous than just a little nibble!
Our culinary journey continued with the Coffee Roasted Beetroot with basil and grapefruit amazake which might sound like a strange combination but somehow works beautifully. The grass fed Beef Carpaccio with mustard pickled Jerusalem artichokes, crowdie cheese and horseradish was presented as fabulously as it tasted with rich deep flavours melting in your mouth.
I always feel the true test of a restaurant's wine list is to order the House wine. If the sommelier is able to source a really good wine at an affordable price that complements most dishes then I'm convinced that the rest of the list will be suitably amazing - true to form, the House red was a bargain and delicious. Further enhancing their credentials their wines are the perfect expressions of where they come from. Some grape varieties are rare and unusual; the winemakers even more so. All their wines are low-intervention, thoughtfully vinified to reflect their environment and its traditions, and are selected to match the food.
As portions were so generous we decided to share one main course between the two of us. This might sound very friendly but believe me there were several heated moments as we couldn't agree on one of the fabulous entrees. Eventually we settled on the Mallard Duck Breast with confit leg, beetroot kvass and green peppercorns which ended up being a prodigious choice and was succulent and full of meaty flavour.
Although we were fully satiated, there's always room for dessert so we devoured the Chocolate Cremeux with honeycomb, orange and long pepper - yum!
Despite thinking of myself as quite adept in the kitchen, a visit to an Ottolenghi restaurant is even more extraordinary than following his recipes at home!
59 Wells Street, London W1