Test Driving ROVI - Ottolenghi's waste-conscious, fire and fermentation restaurant

toastOn the snacks list and a dish surely to become a fast favourite is this - the crumpet lobster toast, with kumquat and chili sauce (£8). It is essentially a very high-end version of prawn toast. If your budget allows, order one each (but you can divide between two). 

What can you tell us about ROVI?

It's the latest restaurant from Yotam Ottolenghi, this time in Fitzrovia. You'll probably know him best for the ever-popular Ottolenghi cafes and restaurants - but this is probably closer to NOPI in execution (even down to the use of CAPITAL LETTERS in the name) which we have to admit to never having visited. This restaurant sees a focus around fermentation and fire (not completely dissimilar to ex-NOPI head chef Scully in St James's Market). And they're placing huge importance on sourcing and low waste too. 

Where is it?

It's in Fitzrovia - and a particular section of Fitzrovia that hasn't been best blessed with good bars or restaurants (if you take a Londoner's approach of having a very small radius when looking at these things). It's on Wells Street, not too far away from Riding House Cafe. 

Where should we meet for a drink first?

It's only about a five-minute walk from our favourite drinking spot in the area, The Wigmore - always a good (and affordable) place to grab a beer or glass of wine. And if you wanted to kick things up a notch, you could go to Artesian for a proper cocktail. 

ginsAnd this is every one of the "Perfect Serve" gin and tonics, using seasonal ingredients. No, we didn't have ALL of these. But we wanted to.

But there's a bar at ROVI too?

There is a LOVELY looking bar at ROVI. You can also eat here if the rest of the room is booked up, but it's a great place to grab a cocktail. Alternatively, there are stools by the front window - so it's a good place to drop in for a drink and some snacks, not just for lunch or dinner. Cocktails are decent - although on the higher price end at £11-£12 - and we'd say the "Perfect Serves" seasonal gin and tonic cocktails, are probably the drinks to aim for (along with a certain martini that we'll be getting to later).

And where should we sit?

This place will be busy for months - and some of the tables are quite close together, particularly along the central section. We think either sitting by the side, or ideally on one of the bar counter seats are the best bet. 

What's on the menu?

It's primarily a small plate affair. So order 2-3 dishes at a time, and hang onto a menu. That'll stop you from being overwhelmed (and lets you work out how much you'll need as you go along). They also have a "with drinks" section - which we would term "what to have while you're reading the rest of the menu". So look at that part first. And there are a lot of vegetarian options on the menu too - it's all divided into veg, meat and fish options. 

Here's what we had on the night...

corn2One of the main dishes that ROVI is already getting a lot of attention over is this - the corn ribs, apricot sauce, chipotle salt(£7). AKA how to make corn on the cob look beautiful - and the combination of that sauce and salt knocks this dish out of the park. A must-order.  

peppersWe love bottarga which is what drew us to this in the veg section - peppers with white polenta and a vegetarian egg yolk bottarga (£8.50). Which strikes us as a great use of leftover egg yolks.

skewerSquid and lardo skewer with red pepper glaze and fennel salad (£13) - big enough to share if you want - and who can resist the combination of lardo and squid?

grillOne of the larger dishes was this - the Jerusalem mixed grill (£19). It's a mix of chicken thigh, liver and hearts with baharat onions and pickles. We have to admit that this didn't quite do it for us - with the chicken hearts being the bulk of the dish. So if that's not your thing, we'd steer you to the onglet skewers instead. 

potatoesFinally, we do love a good potato dish and we think this is God's own potato dish - hay smoked pink fir potatoes, with creme fraiche (£7). Phenomenally good.   

Leave room for dessert?

Yes - you should always leave room for dessert. Although we'd go for something slightly different at ROVI...

doughnutsFirst up - something more traditional - the ricotta doughnuts with pine honey and gooseberries (£8). There's a real light touch on the doughnuts and sharing this dish should be enough to round off the meal - except... 

tiramisuTo finish off - it's back to cocktails and their Tiramisu Martini (Courvoisier, Disaronno, creme de cacao, espresso, mascarpone - £12). It really is a tiramisu dish in pure alcohol form - one of the best sweet cocktails we've ever had. Save this to the end of the meal, you'll be ending on a sky-high note. You may stagger to the door though...

What about drinks?

We've covered cocktails and as for wines, there's no getting around it - this is a punchy list. The cheapest bottle of red is £30 (Cuvée des Galets, Les Vignerons d’Estezargues) and there are about eight bottles under £40, but prices accelerate from there. We went for what's essentially the house white Pecorino/Trebbiano at £32 (Ciu Ciu, Falerio, Oris Bianco, Marche, Italy, 2017) which was perfectly drinkable - but nothing terribly memorable. So you'll want to budget higher to get the more interesting varieties. 


Yotam Ottolenghi can do no wrong in many people's eyes and he takes his time expanding his mini restaurant empire. A great deal of thought has gone into delivering ROVI - it's a beautiful room, there's much care about the provenance and we really do like the central bar area. The menu delivers some outstanding hits - the corn and the potatoes - but may be a stretch for some with the offal-heavy Jerusalem mixed grill. But there's a huge buzz about the place and we think this will be just as successful as NOPI. Just make sure to have that Tiramisu Martini...

Hot Dinners dined as guests of ROVI. Prices are correct at the time of writing.  


More about ROVI

Where is it? 59 Wells Street, London W1A 3AE

How to book : Email contact@rovirestaurant.com

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Twitter @rovi_restaurant


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