Chef Yotam Ottolenghi wrote the book on Israeli cuisine, literally. When it was published in 2012, his Jerusalem: A Cookbook–a runaway bestseller co-authored with chef Sami Tamimi–ignited a new Mediterranean cooking craze, with amateur chefs around the world trying their hands at making the exotic recipes it contained.
You and your friends may have been among them, filling your kitchens with the aroma of roasted sweet potatotes with fresh figs, or chicken with caramelized onion and cardamom rice. While your attemps were delicious, no doubt, you might be curious to taste the same dishes from the master himself at his namesake restaurant, Ottolenghi. This Islington eatery is the perfect place for a night out with your foodie friends, with a casual yet refined atmosphere, warm, attentive service, and food that represents the bounty of the Israeli table.
In anticipation of your meal here, take a moment to flip through your copy of Jerusalem again, making note of the different culinary styles of the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian populations. Then get ready for a serious culinary adventure. As you enter the restaurant, make your way to a communal table–all the better for meeting new friends–and peruse the wine list. You’ll find plenty of stellar reds and whites, but for something different, try a medium-bodied orange wine like the Pheasant’s Tears Rkatsiteli from Georgia. It’s made from grapes, not oranges, but gets its unique tint through an extended maceration process.
Raise a toast to good friends, then begin your feast, ordering a parade of delicacies ranging from braised octopus and lamb cutlets to pan-fried pollock and five-spice quail. Catch up with your friends while you casually sample the delectable cuisine on each other’s plates. It’s difficult not to share when you catch sight of the delights right across the table. And keep an eye out for Ottolenghi himself, who’s frequently on hand to greet guests, sign books, and take a turn in the kitchen.
If the sublime meal you’ve just enjoyed inspires you to have another cooking party, you’re in luck. The restaurant doubles as a deli (there are other locations as well) where you can find the obscure spice blends the cookbook calls for–such as ground Iranian lime or baharat–as well as jams, preserves, and specialty grains. The only thing you’ll enjoy just as much as a dish at Ottolenghi is one on your own dining room table, sprinkled with a dash of accomplishment for getting it right on the first try.