I can't say much about the actual food in the restaurant, however the cakes are divine! I'm now officially addicted and buy a box of at least 4 every time I go past Ottolenghi. So yes I recommend it, and yes the cakes in the shop window really do taste as good as they look - my personal favourite would have to be the passion fruit meringue - amazing!
Heloise Bergman / Time Out
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Posted: Tue Sep 25 2012
Hit cookbooks have made this flagship branch of the burgeoning Ottolenghi empire a point of pilgrimage for foodies the world over. Those Americans brunching nearby are as likely to be tourists as local émigrés from the banking sector, and back in the US they’ll rarely have seen french toast as fat and fluffy as found here. Made from brioche and served with crème fraîche and a thin berry and muscat compote, it makes a heady start to the day and, regrettably, tends to prevent further indulgence in tempting muffins and pastries. If you’re not seeking a sugar-high, alternatives include welsh rarebit, scrambled eggs with smoked salmon or a lively chorizo-spiked take on baked beans served with sourdough, fried egg and black pudding. The queue at the front contains much takeaway custom for the lavish spread of taste-tingling salads, cakes and other nibbles such as flaky cheese straws. In the evening (when bookings are taken), the cool white interior works a double shift as a smart and comparatively pricey restaurant serving elegant fusion dishes for sharing. Expect the likes of grilled quail with smoked chilli chocolate sauce, potato, pak choi and sesame – and expect to have trouble snaring a table. The three other branches are smaller, operating as deli-shops rather than restaurants.
Ottolenghi 287 Upper Street
- Venue phone:
020 7288 1454
- Venue website:
- Opening hours:
Meals served 8am-10pm Mon-Wed; 8am-10.30pm Thur-Sat; 9am-7pm Sun
Tube: Angel tube or Highbury & Islington tube/rail
Main courses £11-£17
- 287 Upper Street
- 020 7288 1454
- 287 Upper Street
Average User Rating
3.5 / 5
- 5 star:6
- 4 star:3
- 3 star:3
- 2 star:1
- 1 star:3
I went with a friend to Ottolenghi. I've tried to go there before, but it is highly recommended to book it, specially during Summer. The wait was worth it. They have the best vegetables I've eaten in my life, tasteful, really well seasoned, cooked to its perfection. I had the Salmon, because the tuna wasn't available anymore, and it was good. My friend had the chicken leg, and she said it was good. But the vegetables, unforgettable. Wine was excellent and I also had one of the best deserts I had in London: A passion fruit pie with merengue, accompanied by an excellent expresso. Take care with the glass door! I saw in two different occasions people hit their faces on the door - and it makes a huge noise inside the restaurant, besides it is dangerous. They should put a stick there. The price is affordable and fair. The quality and amount of food is excellent.
The tantakising window display is enoiugh to draw you in as you may pass on the 43 bus, or are taking a stroll along upper street. The spread is what some would say, a mouth watering, jaw dropping drool moment! The concept of this unique food served in a cute and fresh location is mesmorising! The food was delish and interesting, something new and different flavour you may have never tasted before (especially not on a high street). The culture of the restaurant (if you choose to eat here, if not you can get it take away....so tempting for a cheeky weekend treat) is superb, long tables so you may be seated next to people who love to have a chat or sit alone on smaller tables. everyone in the place is also in drool mode, just being in awe of the spread out front, not to mention the hot selection from the kitchen. Breakfast is a must here! and don't be alarmed by the line, it truly is worth it! you have to eat here!
Food delicious - as always. I eat here often for brunch or in the evenings, but usually avoid the lunch time queues. Made an exception today as an out of town friend was very keen to eat here and was very impressed with the service. We were told there was a 20 min wait, but were seated within about 10 mins with regular updates. Friendly service and the prices, while not cheap, are much the same as my nearest (gentrified) pub.
Well. The food is fine. That's about all I can say. It's not great. The hummus that they are famed for was obviously not tasted by the chef as it obviously desperately needed lemon juice. The poppy seed cornbread was heaven though. The chairs are ridiculously low for the tables which means everyone is straining to use their cutlery. Style over substance! It's the first restaurant that I have been to where they don't ask you how your meal was. It seems they have been carried away with their early success,
One of the best places to eat in Islington. Highly recommended for breakfast or lunch, especially in the week when less busy... And the cakes are great to take away for special gifts.
We went to Ottolenghi's one evening at the suggestion of my wife who had read his books and is unlike me really into vegetarian cuisine. We had a lovely intimate candle lit table in the corner and the service from our young American waiter was,efficient,attentive, engaging and personable. Much of the seating is in long tables beautifully lit by silver candelabra..Our friends said they met a really interesting couple as a result, but if you want intimacy I suggest you book well in advance. The food, which was very fresh with some of it on display, is offered in a series of tapas sized dishes with both cold (from the counter) and hot(from the kitchen and taking longer to serve ) choices. These include.both meat and fish options as well as vegetarian. All the dishes were imaginative and superbly cooked/presented. I found my palate being delighted with taste combinations unique in my experience and they really worked! A real culinary adventure! They accidentally served us with one wrong dish(which proved to be very tasty) and when we casually pointed this out gave us an additional one on the house.without us even asking.My favourite vegetarian dish of the four was the Figs with pecorino,spicy macademia, mixed leaves and orange blossom dressing. My choice of our meat and fish dishes would be the Urfu chilli marinated lamb rump with aubergine garlic confit, nigella seeds and pickled apricot and carrot. Cold dishes varied in price from £8- £9.80 and hot from £10-12. the food was light enough for us choose and enjoy from an enticing range of sweets. The only downside was the wine list which was seriously overpriced. i was offered the almost same bottle of wine(albeit two years younger) the following night elsewhere at half the price. nevertheless this was a very enjoyable evening and we will definitely return next time we are in London. Judging from some of the faces seen in the restaurant it is gaining a first class reputation and based on our experience deservedly so!
What a rip off. Cooking is beautiful - no doubt about it - inventive and delicious - but no where on the website did it ever tell you that these prices are attached to tiny tapas size portions. It was truly shocking. I don't know if it is less expensive to order take away, but why punish the diners who decide to stay? The waitress cheerily told us that she always recommends that people get 5 dishes each (OK, if you don't mind paying close to £60 for salad and some warm dishes - good on you) but the rest of us will have to try to recreate these in normal size portions at home - buy the cookbook and don't bother with the restaurant.
The food is good, full-stop! We have the cookbooks at home and I've given them as gifts to international guests. I've bought cakes and salads as take-away's before and been for a 'table booked in advance' dinner service a few times and the food was always excellent. My upset is not with the quality of food, but with the poor and arrogant service who think nothing of keeping customers waiting (standing) for OVER an hour on a Sunday for lunch. Otto Lenghi don't take bookings for lunch, so people wait for as long as it takes. We were told we would be seated within 20min-30min. Nobody came to give us an update, asked us if we wanted to drink something, have a look at the menu etc. After what seemed like an eternity people left, it should have been our turn to be seated- finally, but the staff seemed in no rush to clear the table so we waited another 10min. Finally we were lead the table. I would have left ages ago but my friend wanted to stay and so I decided to make the most of it. What followed was the most unfriendly service I have experienced in a long time. On top of that we sat near the Air-Conditioning and I had freezing cold air blowing on my head. In short, the whole experience was a nightmare! Otto Lenghi seems to be falling short off their previous greatness. Maybe business is so good that they no longer care about customer service and experience? As more and more people pile into the place and happily spend their precious weekend waiting I wonder, am I the only one who expects a bit more for my money? A smile. A friendly waitress? Fast service? Someone who asks ' is everything to your satisfaction'? Good food alone is just not good enough, I'm sorry. To be fair I should say that when we complained whilst paying our bill (all I wanted was to get out of there asap - new customers in the waiting docks only too happy to take our seats) the manager did handle the complaint well, being very professional and offering us a free cake for desert which we agreed to take with us. That was at last a glimpse of customer service but as far as I am concerned 'too little, too late'. I will NEVER go back for lunch-service unless Otto Lenghi start taking bookings, handle the waiting system better and generally train their staff better. The staff in Pret a Manger are better trained and friendlier for Christ sake.
I went there on Monday night to celebrate my friend's birthday. I was surprised at how crowded it was for a Monday night, and we had to vacate our 7pm booking by 9pm to make way for the next sitting. We were totally gobsmacked at how expensive it was. The food, whilst delicious, averaged around £12 for a small, starter sized portion. To have a decent meal you would need three or four portions per head - which would have come to far more we had expected to pay. The cheapest bottle of wine (also delicious) was £19. The service was OK but nothing special. I really recommend Le Mercury across the road - equally delicious food and about a third of the price.
I will strictly limit this review to those items (among those I tasted) for which objective standards of execution and presentation exist: a quiche and a pain au chocolat. One of the basic requirements of a quiche is that it should not be soggy; and soggy, unfortunately, was exactly what the quiche at Ottolenghi was: water from the vegetables had soaked the pastry. There are a number of ways to ensure this does not happen; it would not make sense to go into them here, except to state that all are easily accessible even to beginner cooks. That the kitchen staff at Ottolenghi should not have been taught them–or should not have not bothered to put them into practice–is really unfortunate. The pain au chocolat was excellent: it had evidently been cooked with superior-quality ingredients, and you could most definitely taste it. It was of course more expensive than what you can get in an ordinary bakery, but the product was, simply, incomparable. Unluckily it–like the quiche and all the food in the shop–was served at room temperature (I did ask for it to be warmed up, and was told this could not be arranged). As anybody can attest, the temperature at which a food is served affects the taste, flavour and texture of the food, and thus the overall experience, in a very considerable way. Of course, Ottolenghi can maintain that all the dishes he invented are meant to be enjoyed at exactly the temperature of his shop, which is indeed kept at that level expressly to bring out their unique personalities (however, in that case, it is quite surprising that in his books he should so often remind the reader to serve the food hot); however, serving quiches and pains au chocolat at room temperature is a serious solecism. I can imagine that it would be inconvenient for the staff at busy times to have to warm up all the food that is to be eaten warm (and the workflow–as well as parts of the shop–would probably have to be redesigned to make this possible) but that is what happens in eating places, from the humblest of charcuteries to the best-reviewed restaurants, all over the world (indeed, from the time fire was discovered, making it possible to eat warm food, our species has never looked back!) . And it happens for a reason. Creativity is one thing, rewriting universal rules to suit one's own convenience is quite another. People do not flock to Ottolenghi to have a quick lunch: what they are led to expect is a superior food experience; I found this evident disregard for the customer's enjoyment deeply disappointing.
What is all this slamming at the customer service? I went there last week and was treated very very lovely. Our waiter was very kind, expained the menue and also kept on filling up our water glasses without further ado. The food was excellent!
We had been before and enjoyed our meal but on this particular evening we were treated very rudely. We just wanted a quick bite to eat before a theatre trip but were spoken to very rudely by the front of house chap. My daughter said I should have answered back but this was supposed to be a nice evening out. In the end we walked out and had a lovely meal at the Italian reataurant over the road. The staff there were delightful and could teach the people at Ottolenghi's some manners!
I have been to Ottolenghis several times - when it has been good, it has been excellent, but when it has been bad, it has been downright horrible. My first few visits resulted in uniformly great experiences. I went there for lunch, found it to be very good value for money and recommended it to all my vegetarian friends because the quality of many of the augergine-based dishes in particular was exceptional. But I have to offer some rather big caveats. Service has been variable, with staff occasionally seeming harried or uncaring. That said, the lady in charge during our last two visits, who also seated us, was extremely friendly and professional. The real bugbears though involve the high cost of a visit for an evening meal - TimeOut should not be suggesting that it is cheap - and the fact that we have been left with dodgy stomachs from the cakes on two occasions now. Where the latter is concerned, to the restaurant's credit, they gave us a gift certificate when we complained but the same thing has happened again. I really think that they must protect the cakes from exposure and I suspect that cakes are left out all day. Despite these experiences, I would still recommend the restaurant but I would stick to lunches and avoid everything else.
I agree with this review of Ottolenghi almost completely. I must admit that this is my favourite restaurant in London, but there is a big inaccuracy in this feature. Ottolenghi is not cheap. Breakfasts and lunches are affordable and the rating for those is correct. But dinners are expensive. It is true that the price for main courses is £8-£10, but one needs at least 3 of these per person. If you add up wine, the bill will increase. I would recommend to go there and dine even if this is not cheap. It is absolutely worth it.
After many, many months of drooling over Yottam's Guardian recipies, we finally got to eat here ( we live far, far away, in distant sticks) - and the whole experience was divine. I applaud Chris ( previous reviewer) and see exactly why he left such comments - some people you couldn't please if you gave them money. Well done, Yottam and staff, we'll be back !