As you may know if you have read my blog before I am a rather large fan of sushi, so I was delighted to be invited to the launch of OKO: the new restaurant and cocktail bar as part of NUVO.
The Brindleyplace favourite has been a popular part of the upmarket drinking and eating scene for years, but the addition of the new restaurant is geared to open up the brand to new visitors looking for a swish sushi experience.
Despite being a separate venture the entrance to OKO is the same as NUVO, found at the far end of Brindleyplace nearest to Five Ways. The style is much inkeeping with the design and opulent furnishing you would expect from the people behind this popular night spot. It all feels quite grand when you initially enter, with plush soft furnishings and a beautiful winding staircase.
Although not one of the largest spaces in the city to eat, the tables are arranged in a way that makes the restaurant seem larger than it really is, with both high benches to sit at for a more relaxed setting, or tables near the windows which are ideal for intimate group gatherings. The bamboo room separators are a nice touch and give the room some authentic character.
There is a large bar at the back of the room offering almost any drink you can think of, from champagne to a selection of high-end spirits. The bar staff, whilst quick to provide drinks, didn’t seem particularly inviting or willing to talk about the available selection, which was a complete contrast to the wonderful waitresses who were incredibly polite and helpful. This could perhaps just be down to launch night nerves, although as it was initially quite quiet when I approached them I suspect not.
We were seated at a 4-person high table next to the bar and given a glass of rose champagne with strawberries to enjoy.
I immediately noted the chopsticks were in paper packaging sitting in a glass tumbler from behind the bar, which seemed a little clumsy considering the restaurant is aiming for a high-end look. Perhaps authentic chopsticks and a table set ready for dining may have provided a more refined experience, although this may be the case when open officially on May 10th. Let me know if you visit!
As a string quartet began to play (nice touch) slate plates dotted with various types of sushi started to be offered, and we were invited to try individual pieces. The platters looked inviting and colourful, and the servers were knowledgable regarding what was on offer, even pointing out their personal favourites and recommendations.
I have to say, the food was delicious and the selection varied, with personal favourites including the tuna sashimi and the salmon and avocado California rolls. However, the highlight of the samples – as we all agreed – was the rare roast beef. It literally fell apart in my mouth and was the undeniable showstopper, despite not being a fishy dish. Tender and tasty – a real winner!
The scallop and bright blue caviar was a pretty but bland addition to the raw plate selection, although my fellow diners loved the octopus. As always sushi – and what you like and don’t like – is a very aquired taste. The salmon and tuna maki were also very moorish.
As sushi experiences go the food at OKO is more than palatable and I’m sure it will be very popular with revellers looking for some sustenance before partying the night away in NUVO. For me, I found the venue and atmosphere to be a little bit unwelcoming, despite the sushi being largely tasty, good quality and obviously handmade to a high standard.
11 Brindleyplace, 2 Brunswick Square, B1 2LP
Disclaimer: I was invited to review OKO as part of the launch event, therefore the food was complimentary. However views and opinions in this review are all mine.