Monday, 19 December 2011

Cheese is Nice: Obika Mozzarella Bar Opens at Canary Wharf

Denial is difficult. Well for me anyway. I don’t like denying myself what I want, especially food. So pregnancy and all its little confinements has been tough so far.

I dream of gorging on big slabs of blue-veined Stilton piled on crackers, or cradling a large piece of pungent soft-rind Camembert in my arms, and the taste of my old friend goat’s cheese is but a distant memory.

So, when I received a 50% off opening offer from the Obika Mozzarella Bar in Canary Wharf, I was in two minds. Clearly this new restaurant was all about the cheese. Should I visit for a torturous evening surrounded by the forbidden or just wait until 2012 and return to enjoy the full experience uncut?

Curiosity got the better of me however, so I booked dinner for myself and dad-to-be.

Obika Mozzarella Bar, What’s The Deal?:

For what is essentially nothing more than a raised platform in the middle of a corporate foyer, the restaurant had a surprisingly sophisticated feel. A jazzy soundtrack piped through speakers and softly-lit tables were placed around two sides of a mozzarella bar in the middle.

As we queued for our table, I felt a strong presence to my left, and turning around I saw them - three large tanks of fresh mozzarella sat atop the bar just staring me in the face willing me to dive in. I turned away and followed the waiter to my seat.

“Stay calm,” I told myself. “There’s bound to be plenty of alternatives you can enjoy on the menu,” but as my eyes perused the other options my face began to redden.

To begin, there was a whole half page to devoted to delicious fresh mozzarella combinations. You can choose from three different types of fresh mozzarella at Obika – delicate Bufala Classica, naturally smoked Buffala Affumicata and extra creamy Burrata. These can be paired with a number of delicious-sounding further pregnancy-forbidden foods such as Prosciutto Crudo di Parma DOP (cured Parma ham) or Bresaola della Valtellina (cured beef).

“I won’t get the mozzarella because it’s unfair on you,” says hubby.

“No don’t be silly, get it, it looks like the best thing on the menu,” I reply as plates of fresh mozzarella with various delightful accompaniments arrive on neighbouring tables.

“There will be something I can have for a starter,” I say as I look through more combinations of cheese, cured meats and pates. Grr.

“Maybe I can just have some. I’m sure it’s fine."

“Well I don’t think you should risk it."

“Hang on let me check with the waiter, excuse me I have a question."

It’s now my boyfriend’s turn to begin to redden in the cheeks.

“Uh, I’m pregnant. Do you know if I can eat the mozzarella?”

“Yes madam, all our mozzarella is pasteurized.”

“Oh great, thank you,” I say as I feel a hard kick at my leg under the table.

“What are you kicking me for?” I wallop my partner in the leg in return.

“I don’t think it’s worth the risk,” he mutters through gritted teeth.

And so the squabble continues. The next-door table is clearly listening. I’m having a tantrum. He’s toying with ordering mozzarella anyway to spite me or just having a pizza for an easy life.

“Just have the sodding mozzarella. I’ll have a salmon salad to start. I’m allowed salmon by the way before you say anything.”

Finally we order. He goes for the Burrata with Parma ham and I opt for salmon salad.

His mozzarella is creamy and has an almost yogurt-like consistency and comes with an olive and spinach garnish.

My salmon and avocado salad is served in a big glass goldfish-type bowl and is very tasty despite the fact that I over dress it using the olive oil and balsamic vinegar accompaniments on the table.

We then shared very rich and tasty lasagna and a lovely smoky pizza with large chunks of grilled aubergine, courgette, charred radicchio and smoked Mozzarella di Buffala.

The Obika Mozzarella Bar, The Final Word:
Despite our cheese disagreement, the food was all of a high standard and I can't wait to return when I can fully appreciate the fresh mozzarella.

Click here to visit the Obika Mozzarella Bar website


  1. Oooh interesting... didn't hear about this, so no doubt have missed any chance at 50% off for their launch. May look at visiting sometime, I do love good mozzarella and burrata too, oh my!

  2. Hey Kavey,

    I recommend it just for the fresh mozzarella.

    Let me know what you think of it if you go.