james debate
james debate

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Head Chef Sam and Samantha Clark
Style Moorish
Address 34-36 Exmouth Market, London EC1R
Open Mon-Sat, lunch 12:30-2:30pm, dinner 7:00-10:30, Tapas served all day
Telephone (0)20 7833 8336

This year there has been a lot of buzz about Moro. This restaurant opened in 1997, but following a string of recent awards, including the Observer's Restaurant of the Year 2009, it has risen to prominence, becoming a home to the fashionable crowd who only go to eat at places that will make their friends jealous. Well friends be damned, I went to find out what all the fuss is about, do read on.

moro restaurant london

After pushing your way into the restaurant through the entry curtains, what struck me was the simple pub-like decor with wooden floors and simple tables and chairs. There's also the long bar one can sit at and get a pre dinner drink or have some tapas.

For me, the quality of the free bread often serves as an indicator of how good the restaurant is going to be. The bread we were served here is about as good as bread ever gets. Soft but chewy, crusty, perfect texture and a mildly sour dough kind of taste. A great start.

Perhaps somewhat foolishly, we then decided to get starters and mains, as well as one or two of the small bar food dishes to share. These small dishes included a plate of chorizo, which was absolutely delectable, but let's face it when is chorizo not awesome? The other was a small dish of manchego cheese, which is always decent.

The choice to then get a starter and a main was a foolish one, as I was pretty much full up by the time I was done with the starters, so heed my warning should you ever find yourself eating here.

As for the food itself, it's an interesting situation. The food is mostly pretty damn ugly. Literally I was worried for a moment when my food arrived. I started with the girolle mushroom and prawn arroz with alioli, basically a prawn and mushroom rice dish with cream, and as I said before, ugly, I wasn't really sure what I had gotten myself into. But then I tasted it, and was reminded vaguely of the Iron Cook episode of Futurama, because the food was really quite delicious. It was really quite exquisite, both texturally and flavour-wisem with deliciously delicate girolle mushrooms and succulent prawns mixed in with this wonderful creamy sauce.

For the main course I got the wood roasted bream with saffron rice, braised chard and tahini sauce. This, compared to the other dishes I had eaten so far, was tasty but mostly unremarkable. The highlight was the crispy lemon grass on top of the rice, which was delightful.

The service, as one would expect from a restaurant that has been so fully thrust into the limelight, was impeccable and friendly, and the wine list covered all the bases.

Ultimately, the food here may look and sound a bit strange, but it's mostly pretty damn tasty. And if in doubt, just go and get yourself a plate of the chorizo, can't go wrong.

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