The Szechuan cocktail arrives.
It’s bright green, almost glowing. There’s a small iceberg of basil sorbet keeping it cool. And it has a tiny flower with a bright yellow, bead-sized head pinned to the side.
“Don’t eat it all at once.” the waiter warns with a knowing smile “It’s quite intense.”
One tiny nibble later, and after a pleasantly floral & grassy flavour washes over you, your mouth will undergo a kind of intense, tingling, tastebud-warping adventure as if you’d just had a very low-voltage current passed through it. It’s odd. It’s beguiling. And the fact that while you eat it, you’re also staring directly at a ten-foot tall stuffed chimera that’s part ostrich, part giraffe, and part snake certainly doesn’t make it feel any less hallucinatory. But this is Yopo in Fitzrovia’s Mandrake Hotel, and hallucinatory is what they do best.
After the tequila & mezcal in your cocktail wash away the lingering tingles dancing around your mouth, you’re ready for your first course of their new menu. If you know what you’re doing, you’ll spring for the house-made sourdough to kick things off. It’s incredibly light & springy, made daily with spelt & wholemeal, and comes with some delightfully fruity olive oil to dip.
You also can’t really go wrong ordering the empanadas. They’re unlike any empanadas you’re likely to have had before – instead of being a small Cornish pasty, they’re like little jewels of perfectly crisp pastry filled with smoked ricotta, spinach & pine nuts. Then there are the oysters, which come with some bracing mezcal granita, and a shallot & ancho cilli vinaigrette.
The opening numbers lead towards seafood – in fact, there are two ceviches, one made with creamy avocado & langoustines cut through with classic tiger milk & pineapple, and the other blending seabass with mango & red onion. Then there are the scallops, which come on the shell, and are teamed up with rich truffle & earthy Jerusalem artichoke.
The larger offerings include a meltingly flavourful pork presa sided by kale & sesame, as well as a sizeable portion of grilled squid, and some mushroom & smoked ricotta ravioli amped up with a little sherry. Then there are the dishes large enough to share: order the ribeye, and you’ll get a preview of it under a glass cloche where it’s soaking up the smoke from a bundle of burning herbs.
For dessert, you can’t go wrong with the Alfajores, which are Latina American-style cookies sandwiching passionfruit dulce de leche, and enrobed in chocolate. Or, for that matter, the considerably lighter fermented pineapple pineapple tepache with mezcal & honey.
These are but a mere few of the new entries on the menu here, but they’re all delicious and, like the venue itself, come with no small amount of theatrical flair.
NOTE: The new menu at Yopo is available now. You can see it in full, and book a table, at their website right HERE.
Yopo | 20-21 Newman Street, W1T 1PG
Want to keep up to date with other fancy restaurants in hotels? Check out Berners Tavern…