Snacking is de rigeur at ROVI (whose name is a little bit of NOPI a little bit of Fitzrovia). We know it's a walkover way to encourage us to order more starters, but frankly no-one should miss out on the lobster crumpet. Think of an ultra-decadent prawn toast yet on a hundred times more tasty. The pickled veg slaw on the side just off-sets a little richness.
A huge grill in the open kitchen provides a little theatre and sets us up for the must-order charred sweetcorn with apricot sauce. Celeriac is given new status with schwarma treatment, and cabbage is served with anchovies and a dashi broth – a brilliant dish for those who love their umami. This is a chef who truly knows how to coax the most (and more) from vegetables. It's no surprise to know that Neil Campbell was formerly Head Chef of The Grain Store in King's Cross, the restaurant that truly pioneered bringing vegetables to the fore in highly creative fashion.
Veg aside, squid and lardo grilled skewers are phenomenally good, and an entirely original combination. Offal lovers will appreciate the Jersusalem grill. All should order hay-smoked potatoes and the grilled tomatoes on chilled yoghurt. Coming straight out of Ottolenghi's new and long-awaited Simple book, they are sure to become a dinner party standard.
What is critical is to save room for the exquisite, small, and perfectly formed ricotta doughnuts – ethereally light and rakishly dabbed with gooseberry.
ROVI's marble topped horseshoe bar with modish black and white print stools is a draw in itself. Unusual cocktails draw on some of Ottolenghi's favourite seasonal spices. Counter seating facing the street is ideal for a quick taster or solo dining, combining work-eat deliciously.
There's a small shop selling vital Ottolenghi larder ingredients and irresistible sounding fresh-bakes, such as parmesan and pistachio biscuits or fruit and nut studded chocolate bark – brilliant gifts, even if only to yourself. Signed copies of Ottolenghi's latest book Simple are for sale too, and, yes, you may even spot Yotam enjoying his new restaurant.
Price: £140 for two including drinks for a proper splurge, though it is possible to eat modestly for half this price!
|What||Rovi in London's Fitzrovia is Ottolenghi's best restaurant yet|
|Where||Rovi, 59 Wells Street, London, W1A 3AE | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Oxford Circus (underground)|
25 Jun 18 – 23 Jun 19, Breakfast (from July) Mon-Fri 8am-11.30am, Sat-Sun 10am-11.45am; lunch Mon-Fri 12pm-14.30pm, Sat-Sun 12.30pm-15.30pm; dinner Mon-Sat 17.30pm-22.15pm