When I say that I live in Islington, the standard response is "oh, you MUST go to Ottolenghi's". I therefore went with high expectations... and was very disappointed.
The first thing to say - it's really not cheap. I checked the menu on the website before I went, but what they do not mention on their website is that they advice you to buy 3 dishes per person - I thought I was checking the price of one main course, not a third of one. I paid £50 for my meal, and I drank tap water the whole evening.
The second thing I didn't like is that they bring the cold dishes straight away, and then the hot dishes arrive 30 mins after, when they have been cooked. This means that you are likely to end up with all of your veg to eat first, and then all of your meat arriving some time after. I personally prefer to mix it up.
Thirdly, the atmosphere. Perhaps some people find it funky, but if I am paying that much for dinner, I would prefer not to be doing it sat at plastic seats, elbow-to-elbow on a large table with no breathing space between me and the friends I am with, and the parties on either side of us. It feels very much like they have squashed us all in as tightly as possible. Also, along a similar vein, don't expect to have the table for the whole evening. They will be keen to rush you in and out as fast as they possibly can. And although one of the side-effects to that is exceptional service for the waiting staff, if you were hoping for a long catch-up with friends, this is not the place for it.
And the food itself? Once I had stared at my salads for half an hour waiting for the main meal it was accompanying, it was nice. But not more than that. With the one notable exception which was the dessert, and that was to die for. So in the future, I shall be going to Ottolenghi's for coffee and cake in the afternoon, or not at all.
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