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Restaurants, Middle Eastern Fitzrovia
4 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars
(3user reviews)

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

A Fitzrovia small plates restaurant from celebrity chef Yotam Ottolenghi.

Hands up who loves Yotam Ottolenghi’s food. All of us, right? I mean, surely someone other than his mum has to be buying all those cookbooks. Rovi is just the place to get your fill of it. More spacious than Islington’s original Ottolenghi, warmer and buzzier than Soho’s Nopi. And – how very zeitgeisty – it serves small plates of food cooked mostly on coals, about two thirds of which also happen to be vegetarian.

As fruits of the earth go, it’s ravishing stuff. Two dishes in particular have stayed with me. One, a plate of charred onion halves and chunks of baby leeks. These came nestled against a dollop of salty, thick whipped feta with a crater pushed into its top. In this depression, lapping the edges as the plate was put down, was a thin green liquid: a spoonful of Ottolenghi’s celebrated ‘green gazpacho’. A verdant, zingy foil to the cooling, creamy cheese. It all came sprinkled with toasted pumpkin seeds and crisp morsels of fried sage. Complicated, yet not complicated. Just, well, lovely.

The other stunner was a jumble of roasted red and yellow baby tomatoes, glistening over a flat puddle of chilled yoghurt. Again, the whole dish had been lifted by myriad delicate spices, from cumin and lemon zest to garlic and thyme. It also came with a pair of thick, deliciously oily pieces of sourdough, their sides blackened by fire. You’ll chew, then let out one long, deep, exhale of contentment.

But here’s where I’m going to disappoint the vegetarians (sorry, vegetarians). The dazzler of the night – though admittedly, only just – was a dish of seafood and mammal bits on a stick. Specifically, morsels of baby squid alternating with slivers of lardo (pork back fat), all pushed on to a single skewer, before being held over flames. The flesh ends up beautifully smoky and sweet. This being Rovi, that wasn’t the end of it. There was also a smooth, sweetish red pepper drizzled loosely over the top, a heavy dollop of aioli sitting fatly to one side and a small fennel and herb salad for added va-va-voom.

There’s a presumptuously named snack section of the menu called With Drinks – rebels that we were, we ordered these without drinks and it was just fine. A moreish lobster crumpet was essentially two pieces of extremely posh sesame prawn toast, with a mind-blowingly good dip. A sweet, tangy, liquid kaleidoscope, it swung from the heat of Szechuan pepper and red chilli one moment, to a flash of ginger and mandarin the next, ending with the fragrance of spring onion and coriander. ‘Would you like to keep it?’ asked our waiter, as he leaned in to clear the plate, ‘lots of people do.’ Um, yes please. It was just a dip. But a dip of dreams.

On the whole, the food was terrific. There were a few blips, though. Like a desperately ordinary celeriac-stuffed pitta pocket. And a plate of wet polenta with grilled peppers that could act as the poster girl for a whole new wave of polenta-haters. But when a restaurant puts this amount of punchy ingredients in every dish and it mostly works, you have to be a bit forgiving. And the fact that the staff are charming is another bonus.

The look is a mish-mash of modernist styles and there’s a corner dedicated to flogging Mr O’s books (‘We’re drunk! Let’s buy cookbooks!’). But every seat, including the high-backed stools at the central bar, is designed for lingering, while the room was alive with the sound of laughter, jazz and cocktails being shaken. In this drab little part of Fitzrovia, Rovi is something quite special.


Address: 55 Wells Street
Transport: Tube: Oxford Circus
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £120.
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Users say (3)

3 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

3.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:0
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
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The food is definitely not good. Very poor burrata recommended by the waiter as one of the best sellers, as well as a bun with vegetables inside with absolutely no taste. Plate of vegetables consisted of 2 small pieces of courgetes and parsley which for me is not a vegetable. Again very bad. Also very bad pita breads. Very high price for very low quality and taste. Service was good though.

As a huge Ottolenghi fan I was so excited to try his newest addition Rovi. It's on a very quiet street behind the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street, but definitely was packed inside. We luckily had made a reservation and so didn't need to wait around. However, the bar looked so attractive in the centre of the restaurant I almost did want to hang about for a bit and have a drink sitting on one of the high rise stools. The interior of the restaurant has a wooden, and really open and modern feel to it, with a little space on the side where you can buy Ottolenghi's cook books. 

The staff matched the good vibes, everyone was so polite and attentive, especially when it came to understanding the menu (you may want a little help with this). Rovi focuses on vegetables, even sources them from local areas (check out their diagrams on the menu), and the flavours are bold and interesting created by cooking over fire and fermentation. 

As a vegetarian, I was spoilt for choice as almost two thirds of the menu was veggie friendly and certain dishes can also be made to be veggie upon request.

We ordered the tempura stems and herbs for starters, deliciously crispy with a bright yellow dip. Went really well with the cocktails, highly recommend the "fall fizz". For mains we had a selection of medium dishes to share; the spaghetti squash, hassle back beetroot, and red cabbage. Between three of us, this definitely filled us up, so I would suggest to order as you go. The mains had very unique flavours, the highlight for me was the beetroot, which had the most warming flavour I've ever tried. Then finally for dessert, we shard the plum and juniper doughnuts which were served with bay leaf cream and almonds. Absolutely delicious!

Overall, this place is definitely worth a try, I would definitely go back for a drink at its bar. Great place to catch up with friends or even a date!

Ottolenghi seems to hit the mark every time and this swanky Fitzrovia restaurant focusing on fermentation and grills is no exception.

The food here is seriously tasty and the restaurant is gorgeously designed (despite a small moment of panic when one thought one might be entombed in the wall to wall wooden toilet chamber forever...)

The menu is so refreshingly interesting, changes daily and contains numerous things that you can’t identify let alone pronounce but the staff were luckily super helpful and eager to explain everything.

For starters we shared the celeriac shawarma and the hasselback beetroot, which were both about as elevated as root vegetables can get. We then had the halibut for two, which came with fresh roti, Asian slaw, curry sauce and various other condimental delights, which you were encouraged to construct into the ultimate fish “taco” - and who were we to argue?! This was accompanied by a zingy fresh tomato and ginger side salad. The standout feature across the board was the spicing, permeating everything with fragrant deliciousness and with each flavour profile completely different from the last.

This place is not cheap but to be genuinely surprised and excited by new flavours is a rare treat. It also had a surprisingly eclectic and well-priced wine list and we managed to escape paying around £100 for two for two starters, mains, a salad and two glasses of wine (including service), which wasn’t anything to get in a pickle about.

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