Moro – Exmouth Market

Moro is a restaurant I’d been meaning to visit for ages. I’ve often read about it over the years and coveted the cookbook, but just never got there.

Its location in Clerkenwell feels like a world a way from deepest south London so when a friend suggested it for her birthday meal I was pleased I now had an excuse to go.

The restaurant was opened in 1997 and is and run by husband and wife team Sam and Sam Hart. Yes they are both called Sam. Food is influenced by Spain and North Africa. You’ll find pomegranate, chickpeas, cumin and harissa in dishes such as salt cod, charcoal cooked lamb, ceviche and tapas.

There’s a woodfired oven, charcoal grill and open plan kitchen so the whole place smells amazing. We visited on a Saturday night and it was packed. It was noisy and buzzing (in a good way) – the atmosphere as vibrant as the food. The crowd was mixed – large groups celebrating through to couples enjoying a meal at their local restaurant. Jealous.

The evening started well when I looked down to see my menu engulfed in flames and a helpful waiter sprinting towards me to assist with the small ‘incident’. He was unflustered and blamed the tea light. Too kind.

Back to the food. There were a few ingredients on the menu I wasn’t aware of so surreptitiously we did some under-table Googling. This was really unnecessary on my part as the staff were lovely and would have happily explained any mysterious dishes or ingredients. Moro’s menu is both exciting and interesting and far from intimidating.

I wish I could remember everything that everyone ate but I’ll try. A chorizo and sherry soup was raved about and I enjoyed squid with harissa which was delicious and not the usual elastic bands of chewy seafood.

I followed this with the Labanese dish Chicken Fattee. I admit that as I am slightly juvenile at times, I was drawn to the name. There were so many components to this layered beauty – chicken, pitta, rice cooked with chickpeas tomatoes and cinnamon amongst many other things. It was gorgeous.

The birthday girl had raved about a plate of vegetables she has eaten there on a previous visit. Vegetables – really? She ordered this once again and me a strident carnivore nearly went vegetarian on the spot when a plate of beautifully presented jewel coloured vegetables arrived.

We probably didn’t need a dessert but thought what the hell. We opted for Yoghurt cake with pistachios which if I’m being honest doesn’t look very appetising at first glance. But it was light and delicious – a good choice if you’ve over indulged on previous courses.

Moro is not cheap – probably around £50 with alcohol. For a special occasion or when you’re feeling flush I would highly recommend for something different. The quality is exceptional.

Next door you’ll find Morito their tapas bar which was equally full and fabulous looking. Another reason to come back to Exmouth Market.

Oh and fancy a drink before and/or after? Head upstairs at the Exmouth Arms round the corner – 5cc is one of the loveliest cocktail bars I know. Booking advised.

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