Culinary Opulence at Opium London: Soho’s Newest Scenester

21 Feb 2019

Hot off the press, Opium London opened its doors in December 2018 in the heart of Soho. Hailing from the sunnier climes of Spain, firstly Madrid and then Barcelona and Marbella, Opium brings the decadent nightlife vibe its celebrated for to London’s high-end scene. Situated right between Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus stations, the location lends itself to easy access and yet, the venue itself is characterised by something rather different - namely exclusivity and luxury.

Stepping into Opium is akin to stepping into a club in Dubai – with the same accompanying rush of ‘ok, wow’ as you are shown downstairs by a stupidly pretty sequin-clad lady, and then engulfed in a dark, immersive space of purple LED lighting and glossy marble finishings. The concept of Opium is a bar/restaurant/nightclub merger – where one can dine and then party/schmooze into the night to some of the world’s top DJs. But hey, we’re here to talk about the food…

After relishing a glass of rosé Champagne at the bar, we were shown to our table, slap-bang in the middle of the luxe space. Leaving our stomachs in the capable hands of Portuguese head chef Diogo Amaro – formerly of Novikov and MNKY HSE – we awaited what was to come with an Old Fashioned brushed with fresh orange peel (for my date) and the salty and olive-infused goodness of an ice-cold Dirty Martini (for me).

Appropriately inaugurating the hedonism to come were two oysters on ice, delicately topped with caviar and served with lemon slices. No ornamental frills here – just luxury. No sooner than those salty wonders sailed down our throats in seafaring fashion did a selection of sashimi – beautifully yet once again minimally presented – arrived. The selection of salmon, hamachi and tuna was marvellous: cold and buttery, succulent and rich with umami, tender and dissolving like snow.

The sushi highlight, however, came henceforth in the form of hamachi (yellowtail) nigiri topped with black truffle, sitting oh-so-pretty on a platter like a king amongst men. I lose it over both sushi and truffle as separate entities. But the two together in unison? Now THAT’S a Valentine’s Day romance I can get on board with. The aforementioned ‘men’ are worthy of note: tempura prawn rolls were soft with a crunch of cucumber, and the California rolls fresh with pop-in-the-mouth fish roe. Following on from this sushi extravaganza was a beef tartare accompanied by a delightful quinoa crisp, a crab salad filled with gems of meaty crab, and sumptuous Iberian ham croquettes.

Despite that all-too-familiar ‘oh my god I’m so full’ exhalation-cum-confession, we were undeniably lured to our main courses upon their fanciful arrival. A delicate fillet of sea bass appeared sitting atop a smooth cauliflower and almond cream, nutty with almond, sweet with shallots and offsetting the salty, crispy sea bass skin in a mouthful of sensorial balance. The anticipation that follows the ‘how would you like it cooked?’ question when ordering a rare piece of meat can only be satiated upon seeing that perfect pinkness. Arriving sliced and proudly adorning pink perfection, the beef fillet – touched with a sprinkle of sea salt and paired with accompanying buttery truffle mashed potato and meaty gravy – hit the spot.

And if all this isn’t enough – if you, after all this, still crave bodily pleasure – be sure to order dessert. The chocolate sphere, speckled with gold flecks, is a theatrical spectacle wherein hot, melted chocolate is poured onto it from a height, collapsing the dome in a resulting pool of rich, ridiculously indulgent chocolate.

From oysters and truffle to foie gras and sashimi, every element of culinary opulence is offered and accomplished at Opium. And, to be sensorially submerged so entirely in pure gastronomical luxury on Valentine’s Day at Opium was – forgive me, Valentine – almost as impassioned as the date itself.

Ashiana Pradhan

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