Rovi, London W1: restaurant review
Read our review of Ottolenghi's new fermentation and cooking over fire restaurant in central London
Rovi in a nutshell
Who's cooking at Rovi?
Neil Campbell, formerly head chef of the now-closed (but equally veggie-centric) King’s Cross Grain Store is behind the pass, with Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi supporting as executive chefs.
What's the vibe?
This is Fitzrovia (hence ‘Rovi’) so expect a suitably slick but contemporary decor thanks to longstanding Ottolenghi friend (and designer of sister restaurant Nopi) Alex Meitlis. Splashes of that signature red are joined by pale oak floors and travertine stone, as well as an open grill at the back of the restaurant and a large, oval cocktail bar in the centre.
What's the food like at Rovi?
As is the trend, there are small and large plates available at lunch and dinner with veg punching way above their weight (see our showstopping veggie entertaining recipes here).
Corn ribs have already become an Instagram star, taking inspiration from a Momofuku dish – the corn quartered, deep-fried, glazed in apricot sauce, baked then dusted with chipotle sauce. It’s as ridiculously good as it sounds - sweet, sticky, smoky and spicy. Hot tomatoes (roasted yellow and red cherry tomatoes) with cold yogurt, herbs and bags of dark urfa chilli displays a simple but masterful grasp of what feels good in the mouth. Celeriac shawarma – this time a nod to Noma – is better than you ever could expect. Soft and sweet, caramelised slices of the humble, gnarly root veg with bkeila (a Tunisian condiment of the softest, most intensely grassy stewed spinach, coriander and parsley) and fermented (read flavour-packed) tomatoes are packed into a soft bun.
There’s plenty more that’s great on the menu – including crumpet lobster toast (think posh prawn toast) with kumquat and chilli sauce – but you won’t go far wrong sticking with the veg. They even appear in the desserts, in the form of a fluorescent pink beetroot and chocolate fondant, which should probably be skipped in favour of ricotta donuts with gooseberries and pine honey.
And the drinks?
Cocktails are based on seasonal spices, there are four ‘perfect serve G&Ts’, as well as clever mocktails – the All is Wells with apple, spirulina, ginger, cucumber and citrus is super refreshing. Fans of low-intervention wines from small producers have plenty to choose from here, too.
olive tip: Skip the meat and fish – veggies are where it’s at!
Rovi, 59 Wells Street, London W1A 3AE, ottolenghi.co.uk/locations
Words by Laura Rowe
Photos by David Loftus, Adam Luszniak
Click here to listen to our podcast with Rovi head chef, Neil Campbell