Nopi or Palomar

My sister and niece are visiting London and I really wanted to take them to Ottolenghi, which I enjoy - but it’s hard to find a lunchtime available. So I’ve thought instead about dinner at either Nopi (is it close enough to the Ottolenghi experience?) or finally trying Palomar. Any thoughts? I definitely prefer an eclectic plate than a huge dish of one thing so that’s why Ottolenghi is so enjoyable to me - that and the fact that his aubergine is so perfectly done every time.

I haven’t been to Palomar, so can’t say anything about that.

I love Nopi so much I had my wedding rehearsal dinner there. The experience is along the same lines as Ottolenghi, but it is a much more comfortable dining experience. Great wine list, similar dining style – you’d order many small and medium-sized plates vs one dish per person.

I’ve only ever been to the Ottolenghi in Islington, but I have had a hard time convincing my husband to return there because most seating is communal and so close together you feel as if you are eavesdropping. Nopi has gorgeous, eclectic, vegetable-driven dishes in much more elegant and laid-back surroundings.

I’ve been to Palomar and love it. For lunch, showing up about noon usually insures a seat at their long bar, and I enjoy watching the chefs doing their thing. The food is delicious, and maybe I like it just a tad more than Nopi. I’m usually on my own and find that everyone is very friendly and it’s easy to chat with a neighbor sitting next to one.

The same people have opened a new place at Covent Garden, so that is probably very good, too… haven’t yet gotten there. It’s called Barbary Coast.

Definitely Palomar or Barbary. I don’t think Nopi is that great. I found it very common and boring. Palomar was our favorite until Barbary opened and we went there by accident. After our first visit and then learning that it was owned by the same folks as Palomar, we stopped going to Palomar. We both preferred the food and staff at Barbary so much more. I can’t really pinpoint exactly what we preferred better about Barbary but I found the food more exciting, more interesting and more surprising than at Palomar. I also prefer the smaller space and the quieter ambiance of Barbary to Palomar. We did return to Palomar a few times after Barbary opened, just to compare again and we still preferred Barbary.

Palomar every time over Nopi (and I like Nopi)

Thanks for all the comments. I really want to go to Palomar but haven’t been able to find a reservation open for when I can go. I do have a plan to get to Barbary early one evening in the next month! I did get a reservation to Nopi, which I will keep, since one of my party wanted a return visit to Ottolenghi - this fit the bill. Palomar must happen so I’ll keep trying to get a spot. Will report back on the Nopi experience.

Can you do Palomar at lunchtime? Maybe you’ve tried that option, too, but I have good luck with an early lunch at the bar.

Hi all! Yes, I may try Palomar at lunch time if I can - but it won’t be with my family. I have friends coming into London mid April and we have decided that we will go to Barbary very early to try to get in - will get back to that. Palomar is firmly on my list so I will make it there somehow.

Yesterday we went to Palomar. My verdict - I like the other Ottolenghi versions better since it seems better value and presentation. At Ottolenghi I get the same sort of food but for under £20 and I’m stuffed. Last night I paid £33 and came away feeling a bit hungry. However, I loved the space and the service at Nopi. We sat downstairs and spoke with every nearby table companion that came and went - that was fantastic and it felt like every one of them wanted to chat and be friendly. We were a bit far from the kitchen but I liked the feeling of that big bustling space. The server couldn’t have been more wonderful - I now wish I’d left an extra tip. We tried five vegetable, two meat and one main - it would be hard to choose a favourite. The food was delicious - don’t get me wrong - but yes Ottolenghi is far better value. Surprisingly, I loved the roasted butternut squash (I’m usually lukewarm on that), the aubergine (my usual favourite Ottolenghi dish) was great but the other restaurants do it better. The kale and apple side was a waste of money but the dressing was delicious. The twice baked chicken was a taste delight but £22? Hmmm. And why didn’t someone tell me about that surreal toilet?? I’m glad I wasn’t under the influence when I went in. Thanks, all. More meals elsewhere to come.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold