287 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 2TZ
Price £25 per person (brunch)
You just need to peak through the glass doors to understand the success of Ottolenghi’s deli counter with a long and lively queue taking up half of the venue.
The colours of the salads and cakes on the counter definitely stand out against what would otherwise be a pretty aseptic ambience. The contrast works really well and definitely invites you to take a seat or take a meal home.
We went for brunch on Sunday at 11:30, just in time before the queue for tables started. Without any reserve, you can say the place is quintessentially white, middle class but middle age British with few exceptions of equally posh-but-not-presumptuous Europeans. This is the place where the kids who made it meet and chat about how they made and what’s up next. Very #yeswecan kind of style.
From top left clockwise: scrambled tofu, scrambled eggs with salmon, orange and chocolate sponge, Shakshuka.
But let’s go down to the important bit – the food. A few mixed feelings about our mains. We ordered Shakshuka: a North African dish with eggs, rosted peppers and labneh which unfortunately turned out to be way too flavoursome, with undistinguishable flavours and only the peppers hitting the palate. We had a very nice dish of scrambled eggs with salmon – that could have done with a little bit more of salmon but where the fish was nice and the eggs creamy. It was accompanied by a delicious little side of avocado salad with lemongrass that I have to say surprised me. In my opinion the best dish of the day was scrambled tofu with avocado and tomatoes: the flavours were delicate and balanced with a beautiful mix of Mediterranean spices on the tofu that gave it a great kick. I definitely recommend this last one.
I was a good meal, but I couldn’t resit the counter! Hence we ordered two very nice desserts from there: a delicate and crumbly raspberry tart and a filling, spongy orange and chocolate tart. Both deserving a little applause.
Good food, good chats, with the possibility of going both healthy and fatty.