My recent trip to Moro came about after cancelling a lunch reservation for Dinner by Heston Blumenthal which I was supposed to go with 3 of my sisters. Much as I enjoyed it when I went 3 weeks ago, I wasn’t wowed enough to warrant going back within a month. So, we were left with tickets to Londinium but no reservation anywhere. A quick round of group emails and we decided upon Moro – It was somewhere S and Q had never been to before but were keen to try, and whilst YKL and myself had been before, it was a while back and good enough for us to want to return. Previously, I’d only been for bar tapas and if truth be known, a glance at the a la carte menu online didn’t really grab my attention, but I was hoping to be proved wrong and that the enthusiasm from a S and Q would be catching. Besides, it’s always good to meet up with Family and to eat out together.
The walk to the restaurant from Angel was quite pleasant – even for someone like me with a slightly dodgy foot and before you knew it, we were there. The restaurant itself is unassuming and if it weren’t for the fact that you looked up and saw the sign, you would probably miss it. That said, it doesn’t have a good reputation for nothing and was understandably near-capacity when we got there just before 1pm. Someone commented how it’s very much like any of the other neighbourhood restaurants which I completely agree with. As a result,the atmosphere was very relaxed and the decor was clean and modern with the use of a large skylight making the room seem even more airy. That said, none of the tables were too close to each other anyway so it didn’t feel too cramped or claustrophobic inside.
I have to say that the relaxed atmosphere of the restaurant combined with S and Q’s enthusiasm did rub off onto me a little and the menu began to appeal to me a bit more. Fortunately, my tastes are quite similar to YKL’s so there were a couple of dishes that we both fancied so ordered 1 of each and would let each other have a taste. S and Q opted to get some tapas to share which was ideal as we’re all greedy and curious enough to want a try a bit of everything (as well as eat our own dishes).
I opted for the beetroot borani with feta and fried artichokes which was good, but you definitely needed to have some of the feta to zing it up a bit, otherwise it was almost like a nothingness – The beetroot on its own wasn’t particularly flavoursome and the purée texture didn’t help. Everything combined though, was good. Ming’s choice of warm green bean and duck salad with pomegranates and walnuts had an unexpected kick of spice from a cumin dressing which made it absolutely delicious, I’m sure the rest of us privately wished we had ordered that. My only gripe was that the beans were slightly overcooked which leads me to the next dish, YKL’s choice of Mojama with sprouting broccoli, lemon and red chilli. This dish was an absolute failure and disaster; The broccoli was overcooked to the point where it was mushy, the Mojama was INCREDIBLY salty – And I like salty food. It was just a plate of salty, overcooked mush and not worth the £8.50 price. It wouldn’t even be worth 8.5p. As a result, YKL left half of it as she clearly wasn’t enjoying it but luckily, we all rallied round and offered her some of our own food. When clearing the plates, she was asked by the staff if she had finished as half the food was left of the plate and rather than cause a fuss and complain about the dish, I think it was plain to see that this dish should never have been sent out and we were all disappointed that the kitchen did so.
Mains-wise, we all did well; Both Ming and YKL opted for the wood roasted pork with wood roasted vegetables and quince aioli which was very tasty. The pork was juicy and most, the crackling jaw-breakingly crisp and the vegetables cooked perfectly, all was contrasted with the fruity quince aioli. I should also give props to the restaurant here as they gave YKL an extra slice of pork, presumably to make up for the horror that was her starter. They didn’t have to do so and didn’t make any fuss (nor did YKL), but I thought that was a good way to save an embarrassing oversight and great service to notice it. Why do I think they did this? Well, both Ming and YKL ordered the pork and they were very definite that YKL was getting the plate with 3 slices (and no, it wasn’t a case of Ming having a larger cut of meat).
I opted for the chicken and prawn romesco with almonds and hispi cabbage which again, was very tasty; meat was tender and juicy, the romesco nicely made and a nice char on the cabbage to contrast all the other flavours. One tiny gripe was that the skin wasn’t as crisp as I’d hoped – And Lord knows I like me some roast chicken skin, but that’s more from wanting to find fault with the dish as it was perfectly palatable as it was. Q ordered the wood roasted sea bass with walnuts, yoghurt sauce and sweet herbs with braised spinach which was cooked perfectly and Q absolutely loved it. S’s choice of charcoal grilled bream with cucumber, chilli and tarragon salad and warm mixed grains was quite stunning – Beautifully fresh bream cooked to perfection with crisp, charred skin which peeled back to reveal pearly while flakes of tender flesh. Add to that the contrast of the chilli and tarragon salad and warm mixed grains, it was absolutely delicious. It heartened me to see fresh fish treated and cooked with respect and so well whilst eating out. We also ordered an extra mixed vegetable mezze for the table to share (and again, because we’re all so greedy) which was a good call as it was almost like the tapas for starters where everyone got to try a little bit of something along with their own mains.
After eating such good food thus far, it felt rude not to try their desserts and again, I may not have been tempted by desserts before the meal but by the time we had finished our mains, I was completely ready for dessert. Seeing as YKL and Q opted for the chocolate and apricot tart (which I only wanted a taste of), I opted for the rosewater and cardamom ice cream whilst Ming went for the Malaga raisin ice cream (which was quite boozy, so I couldn’t have). The chocolate and apricot tart was superb – The pastry was incredibly short and crisp whilst the filling was almost like a rich chocolate mousse on top of some apricot coulis. It was the kind of dish you could imagine making at home, but know that your efforts wouldn’t be as good – And that’s fine as this one tasted so damn fine. My ice cream was a perfect balance of flavours; an initial hit of cardamom (which wasn’t too overbearing) soon gave way to the creaminess of the ice cream and a taste of rosewater lingers in your mouth afterwards. It was quite divine and I could have gobbled another portion if I was given the chance. Judging by the noises that Ming made as she ate her Malaga raisin ice cream, I can only assume that enjoyed it.
In closing, there were certainly more hits than misses when it came to the food, but the hits were VERY big hits which in some ways made the misses even more disappointing. I’ve already mentioned how service should be commended for how they dealt with the unfortunate incident regarding YKL’s starter, but like the food, service was on the whole good, friendly and attentive. They were certainly well-informed when S and Q were asking about the different sherries (as one would expect them to be), but there were a few incidents here and there which could have been improved. Not least when they served Ming’s glass of wine and just plonked it on the corner of the table and walked off without letting her (or anyone on the table) know about it, which meant it could have been knocked off the table as people were completely oblivious to it being there. So there were a few incidents here and there which, whilst disappointing, don’t detract enough from the fact that we all had a good time and ate some great food. More to the point, we’d all go back given the chance.
You can view the full set of photos at My Flickr