Openings

Eat this: Rovi

It’s the first new restaurant brand from Yotam Ottolenghi in six years and the spotlight will be on vegetables and fermentation.

28 June 2018
fermentedmiddle easternrestaurant openingrestaurantsvegetablesvegetarian
image credit: David Loftus
  • The Gist: A focus on vegetables, fermentation and cooking over fire
  • The Chefs: Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
  • Location: 59 Wells Street, London W1A 3AE
  • Food in 5 words: Organic vegetables take centre stage
  • See more: www.ottolenghi.co.uk/rovi

How did we get here?

Chef Yotam Ottolenghi is a household name in the UK. He is credited for bringing a range of interesting Middle Eastern ingredients to the mainstream and celebrating vegetables, as well as making over the image of salad as just being bland and boring. He has a strict policy of no preservatives and colourings, with as much ingredients prepared in-store as possible.

He set up Ottolenghi in 2002 and now has restaurants and deli cafes in Belgravia, Spitalfields, Islington and Notting Hill, along with Nopi in the West End, as well as supporting one of his protégés with the opening of Scully. He has also published a number of cookbooks.

Now he is expanding his empire further, opening his biggest restaurant yet in Fitzrovia. Called Rovi, the restaurant is serving a menu with vegetables at its heart, but with a focus on fermentation and cooking over fire. Think Jersey Royals smoked on top of hay; hand-dived scallops with cucumber kombucha; and peaches grilled over fire.

What’s different about it?

Vegetables are the hero ingredient, some of the dishes are made from food waste and there are choices of serving sizes.

“The name, Rovi, is a little bit of Nopi and a little bit of Fitzrovia. We wanted to develop a new restaurant and bar with vegetables at the core, but treated a little differently,” said Yotam Ottolenghi.

“At Rovi, vegetables will be the main event, cooked on the grill. We’ll mainly work with small batch suppliers and farmers, people who respect the environment and the produce, to bring the best quality food to our diners while supporting best-practice agriculture.”

image credit: David Loftus

Many dishes are available in different sizes, along with small plates and large dishes to give diners more flexibility and choice.

Fruit and vegetables are bought directly from Brambletye in Sussex, where a group of five young farmers cultivate biodynamic, organic produce. The shellfish comes from the Ethical Shellfish Company, a husband and wife team who hand dive for scallops without waste or bycatch around the Isle of Mull.

Reducing waste is a central focus at Rovi. Leftover wine is used to make vinegars, such as a chilli top and tomato skin vinegar, and used coffee grounds are used to cook dishes such as the Hasselback kaffir lime beets.

You’ve got to try...

Kohlrabi ‘ravioli’ with peas, broad beans and yuzu kosho. Food Spark has reported on the popularity of kohlrabi and Ottolenghi is certainly taking the vegetable and using it in a creative way.

There is also a nod to Japan’s influence on the food scene right now with the yuzu kosho chilli paste. The yuzu fruit brings citrus blossom flavours to this paste, whilst green chillies add the fire.

image credit: David Loftus

Sparkie also likes...

The dish of braised and smoked carrots with puffed black barley and pickled herbs. It’s bringing in all elements of the ethos of Rovi: using the fire to finish off the carrots, drawing on the increasing demand for grains and bringing in the popularity of pickling.

Cooking over the fire has ignited in London with everyone from Irish restaurant Nuala to South African establishment Kudu. Food Spark has also revealed how vinegar is becoming a big deal with the rise in pickling.

Go if...

You want to celebrate vegetables in a tasty, thoughtful way.

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