Review: Moro’s 20th Anniversary
It is remarkable, considering that restaurants in London are opening and closing at record pace, that some are able to stand the test of time. Rules springs immediately to mind, claiming as it does to be London’s oldest restaurant. Others, like St. John, stand out as much for their contribution to London’s gastronomic landscape as they do for their ability to stick around.
Moro is a restaurant that falls into the latter category. Set up by chefs (and husband and wife) Sam and Sam Clark in 1997, it was new and exciting in so many ways. We remember our first meal there many (too many) years ago and the excitement around this groundbreaking new restaurant that was doing away with the rules.
We had small plates of food for the table to share? Well, what a thing. These simple, stripped back yet unfamiliar arrangements of ingredients were the bomb. Bright, plummy swirls of beaten beetroot whipped into a borani and topped with feta; crab brik glistening from the frying pan, burnished and crisp; white dunes of fluffy yoghurt hiding niblets of nuts and herbs, and ice cream in a bath of raisin-y PX sherry.
It was all unique and exhilarating for the London food obsessives who flocked there, and this year, they celebrate their 20th anniversary with a bold move – bringing back the original 1997 menu. Bold and also brilliant, it’s remarkable how that menu stands the test of time. And this, not just any regular, common or garden time as measured by hours, minutes or seconds, but London restaurant time.
We feast on crab brik once again, its pastry shattering to reveal the rich meat. Pan-fried calves liver is soft and intense, its iron-rich twang stroked to submission by thick yoghurt, laced with cumin. A piece of grilled sea bass comes with jewelled rice, no less delicious for its now being ubiquitous, and a silken tahini sauce which must’ve been a head scratcher for diners sat in these seats 20 years ago. This, remember, is when tahini was available in health food shops, not popularised onto supermarket shelves by chefs like Ottolenghi.
For dessert, we can’t resist the Malaga raisin ice cream with Pedro Ximenez for old times sake and oh, it’s still a thrill. Better still, though, is rosewater and cardamom, a lesson in how to use the difficult flavours, with not a hint of soap between them and the smoothest of textures.
At Just Opened London we are in the business of thrill seeking, chasing the buzz of newly opened restaurants so we can be the ones keeping you guys in the know. That doesn’t mean, however, that we don’t also spend time keeping an eye on the established. Well, we can tell you that Moro has stood the test of time. It’s more than that in fact: it’s timeless.
Moro, 34 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QE.
JOL was invited to review Moro on a complimentary basis. We retain full editorial control.