Apparently there are people who don’t realise that a local SIM card with a data plan can make travelling SO much easier. The ease of checking Google Maps notwithstanding, there are a lot of things we did on this trip that wouldn’t have been possible without a data-enabled SIM card. (I paid T-Mobile GBP 10 for 100 mins talktime, 100 SMSes, and 1GB of data. Totes worth every penny.)
Our dinner at NOPI in London’s Soho is one great example. En route back from Manchester, Mich was moaning that she would kill for a farm-to-table meal at ABC Kitchen (back in NYC, her home city) after days of fish&chips and other touristy English foods. I suggested we try NOPI – I stumbled across it while I’d been poking about online prior to the trip for interesting places to eat, and conceptually it sounded pretty similar to ABC Kitchen.
I googled a sample daily menu from their website on my phone and we all agreed it sounded worth a try. As the phone line was closed for the day, I sent NOPI a quick email to ask if they had room for the four of us at dinner the next day. To my surprise, I received a reply within half an hour to say that, yes, they did have room for us at the communal table. Voila! Instant dinner plans!
I think I shall let the pictures do most of the talking from here on out.
The communal table was located in the basement level, together with the kitchen and storage racks. It wasn’t at all convivial, but then I didn’t really expect Londoners to start chatting with fellow diners who were complete strangers! Anyhoo, here we are with our cocktails (and my mocktail). I think we clean up pretty nice :)
Truffled polenta chips. While I did remember that ‘chips’ means ‘fries’ in the UK, it was a bit surprising to get such thick-cut slabs. They were tasty, though. And a nice change from your typical truffled shoestring fries.
Burrata, peach, fennel and coriander seeds. The first of many raw or otherwise suspicious cheese-y dishes that I didn’t eat, alas.
Courgette and manouri fritters with cardamom yoghurt. Deep-fried balls of veggies and cheese? Yes, please.
Left: Crushed beetroot, grains of paradise, labneh, hazelnuts.
Right: red, yellow chicory, figs, caramelised macadamia nuts.
I liked the one on the right better. I’m just partial to macadamia nuts that way.
Valdeon cheesecake, pickled beetroot, hazelnut, thyme honey. Blue cheese really isn’t my thing right now, but this was a big hit with the others. So big a hit, in fact, that the restaurant brought us a 2nd one on the house.
Seared scallops, sea spaghetti, shiitake. Somehow, this just wasn’t as creative or exceptional as the veg-based dishes.
Pork belly, black bean ragu, yuzu puree. Again, not as outstanding as the veg dishes. And not as amazing as the pork belly we had at the Bull & Last earlier in the trip.
Pan-fried duck breast, red quinoa, hazelnut beer butter. Can’t comment because I had only a small taste of this, due to my poultry aversion at the time.
Freekeh, herb mascarpone, jalapeno, barberry. This is the dish that we didn’t order, but that the waiter mistakenly brought. So it was on the house. As grains go, I liked it.
Pixel tomatoes, tomatillo, sumac, basil. “What are pixel tomatoes?” we asked the waiter. “They’re… really small,” he said, with absolutely no intention of making a funny. They were also very tasty.
Chargrilled tenderstem broccoli, mustard vinaigrette, almonds. Or as we called it, ‘chaotah broccoli’. I think Michelle would have happily finished this by herself.
Dessert! This was a chocolate orange fudge-y thing, with halvah and sesame ice cream. Good if you like jaffa cakes, which fortunately I do.
A sorbet of some berry or another, topped with pop rocks. Very fizzy and fun. I think we picked great desserts to share and end the meal with, considering we were way too full to have one each.