Thursday, 23 June 2016
Morito, Hackney Road: a review
Situated slap bang in the middle of a council estate, opposite betting and chicken shops, this isn't the sort of place you are going to stumble on. However, Morito is worth travelling to. Around a 15 minute walk from Old Street station, the fresh, white shop front is a beacon of calm on a busy road in East London. Opening a month ago (May 2016), it is the latest restaurant from duo Sam and Sam Clark, who have owned Moro in Exmouth Market since 1997.
When entering, I was distracted from the maitre d's welcome by the sight of an open kitchen. I always think it is a positive sign when a restaurant isn't afraid to show you how your food is being prepared. Plus, it's great watching masters at work.
Three burly blokes with beer bellies and polo necks tucked into lamb chops and salads on the table next to us. A suit-clad diner sat alone, enjoying his lunch break. Another couple enjoyed a glass of wine as their baby slept on. All are welcome at Moro, and all are allowed to linger. We were offered a choice of tables on arrival and were never rushed.
The star of the North-African inspired show was fried aubergine with feta and date molasses. If I were to guess, I would say they were dipped in polenta so were crisp and incredibly moreish. The other stand-out dish was charcoal-grilled quail with pomegranate and pistachio sauce. Take my advice and order a bread basket to mop up the juices.
We feasted on six dishes in total, and that was enough for two. My tip would be to stick with the house wine, as a carafe comes in at a reasonable £16. Morito is great for vegetarians, too, as there are more than a dozen vegetable plates to choose from.
For me, it's the finer details that make this place special. The light-coloured half-moon tiles on the walls, the spherical design of the glass wear and the Aesop soap in the bathroom are all clear signs that the Clark's care. They have put a bit of themselves into this place.
I was stuffed by the time the stream of small plates ended, so no room for a dessert of peach and yogurt ice cream. The menu changes regularly but that's what I'll have to order next time, if it's still on...
Menu for two with wine came in at £69.19, including tip