Rating: Eggs Royal
London brunch review - Ottolenghi Islington. You like food? Well, I’m not talking burgers, kebabs and alike. I’m not talking about eating because you are hungry. And I’m also not talking about shuffling food in your mouth during small talk with your friends where the gossip is way more important than what is on the plate in front of you. No, I’m talking about real food. Dishes containing vegetables and salads, pieces of meat and fish and crusty bread, which, yes, you got it, even have taste! Food that you want to dive into – like Tom Daley dived into the pool during the Olympics. Jump, stretch, close your eyes and let your senses do the job. Sounds a bit like a skydive, just without the adrenaline rush, but with the same urge to repeat the experience…
I’ve read a lot about Ottolenghi, but when I arrived for the first time I was still stunned by… the queue. The clock shows noon on a Saturday, I’m carrying my gym bag and I’m desperate for a big brunch after a morning workout. Nope, sorry to disappoint you! Add extreme-queuing to your exercise plan – a minimum of 30 – 45 minutes. And the worst part is – during this whole time where your stomach growls you are forced to look through that window. And what do you get to see? Cakes. A lot of cakes. Cakes in different colours, cakes in different sizes, cakes in the most amazing styles.
For a second you hassle with the thought of giving up and just get a take-away. No, I stay. We are now at 20 minutes. I passed the cakes. And it’s getting worse: the salad and main course buffet on my left hand side and the croissants, breads and jams ready for sale on my right hand side seal the deal. I have to wait although I’m suffering.
43 minutes. A friendly waitress finally tells me I made it. There is a seat waiting for me. Almost at the same time I sit down the menu is being handed over, the cutlery is placed next to me and I’m offered a glass of water. It is nice and cool in here. Beautiful white tables and chairs create an interesting environment and the colourful food seems to get even more attention within this design.
The breakfast menu is short, but every single dish is worth taking a picture – as most guests do as I observe the crowd which is clearly early 30s young professional oriented.
The muesli comes with a twist – instead of oranges and apples plums and blackberries decorate the yoghurt, the bread can be toasted on the table and even an African dish – Shakshuka (eggs, peppers and tomatoes) – makes it on the menu. Of course French Toast and Scrambled Eggs can also be found as well as Welsh Rarebit. The cappuccino is creamy, although I consider the large one as a bit overpriced at £3,-. The only thing missing and what would perfectly fit into the healthy environment is a small selection of freshly squeezed juices and/or smoothies.
For those who already reached the time of the day where they request something heartier but what still serves as a brunch they can select from a broad lunch menu where you either choose a main course with two or three salads or just a plate full of a mix of the salads offered that day. I can tell you – every single mouthful is exactly how you expect it to be and how it should be in a Central London well known eatery.
My stomach tells me that it is enough. Seriously, did I queue all that time for one dish? On the other hand it is another sunny day in London town – so, better not being wasted! Nonetheless I can’t leave without taking one of these cakes with me I had to stare at from the very beginning. My choice is a “White Chocolate Cheesecake Tart with Raspberry Compote”. Do you want me now to tell you the truth about it or are we just going to pretend it was an average piece of pastry? Of course it wasn’t! However, I think you should find out about the several facets of Ottolenghi yourself…
… and therefore: Go for brunch, London!
Bloody Mary: ......................................................................................£ ---
Scrambled Eggs and Hansen-Lydersen smoked salmon: ...................£9,50
Ottolenghi Islington, 287 Upper Street, London N1 2TZ
Open: Monday-Saturday 8:00am-10:30pm, Sunday: 9:00am-7:00pm
Phone: 020 7288 1454