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Friday 27 September 2013

London Restaurant Reviews - Morito

Name: Morito

Where: 32 Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QE, 020 7278 7007, info@morito.co.uk

Cost: It was a nice surprise to see how well priced the menu is at Morito. The average cost for a tapa dish from the current menu is £5 to £6 whilst the Seafood Festival Menu options range from £3.50 to £8.50. Commendably, the house wine is priced at only £17 with a few other excellent options below the £30 mark.

About: Morito is a tapas & mezze bar next door to sister restaurant Moro on Exmouth Market. Founded by Sam & Sam Clark in 2011, Morito is small but perfectly formed, vibrant and funky sort of place serving some of the best tapas I have tried outside of Spain.

I use Sam & Sam’s cookbooks often and have eaten at Moro on a number of occasions. Despite it being around for what seems a very long time in restaurant terms, food at Moro has never failed to impress me - it is innovative, fresh and bursting with flavour.

Morito is no exception. I visited it this week to try their 2013 Seafood Festival menu, available from 24 September – 6 October 2013. Morito is offering, alongside their current menu, a specially created seafood tasting menu with matching sherries, inspired by Sam & Sam’s latest trip to Galicia.

What we ate: We had nearly every dish on the Seafood Festival menu, they were all excellent, very expertly cooked with some beautifully fresh ingredients, what a joy!

Salt cod croquetas & aioli (£4) - lovely, and just like the Portuguese “bolinhos de bacalhau” which I adore.

Vieiras - scallops with albariño (£8.50) - this was one of the highlights, the scallops were sweet and so fresh they were melting in the mouth, sashimi quality in my opinion.

Ceviche - sea bass, seaweed, sesame & cucumber (£6) - slightly Japanese(y) in concept, it tasted similar to a popular Japanese salad I eat sometimes with wakame, pickled cucumber and prawns.

Puntillitas - deep fried baby squid (£8.50) - these were terribly moreish, crispy yet so soft and delicious.

Arroz negro - black rice with cuttlefish and preserved lemon (£6.50) - another highlight, we both loved this dish. It was incredibly creamy, with delicious heady citrus undertones from the preserved lemon, a magnificent dish.

Palamos prawns & mojo verde (£7) - this was in our opinion the weakest link. The prawns were grilled but served on the shell which gave out a lovely aroma but were a bummer to eat as they were so tiny. Delicious but just a little fiddly to eat.

Pulpo, fava bean and potato puree (£7) - grilled and very tender octopus pieces flavoured with paprika and olive oil, simple but so amazingly good.

Crab and oloroso montadito (£8.50) - another favourite, the crab meat was fresh and seasoned with oloroso sherry, olive oil and fresh parsley and served on thin sourdough bread toasts.

For dessert, we had a fantastically light, creme catalana (£5.50) which had been infused with a number of spices including cinnamon and also their Malaga raisin ice cream (£4.50). The ice cream was equally good - top quality vanilla ice cream with plump raisins soaked in Pedro Ximenez sherry (the sweetest in the sherry spectrum), all doused in more luscious PX for good measure.

What we drank: We had all three Gonzalez Byass sherries recommended on the seafood menu. They were all different in style, but I cannot think of better matches to the dishes we had that night. The sherries included Solear Manzanilla (£4.75 for a 100ml glass), Tio Pepe Fino (£4.50) and a fabulous Amontillado (£5.50). With dessert, we also had a glass of Oloroso Dulce (£6) a beautifully balanced sweet sherry with plenty of acidity and great length which went down very well indeed.

Likes: We enjoyed every single dish we had, but highlights were the black rice with cuttlefish and preserve lemon and also the seared scallops with albariño. Service was very friendly and knowledgeable, the staff seemed to know pretty much everything on all the dishes we asked them about.

Dislikes: Having a no-booking policy for dinner is a tad annoying.

Verdict: Morito is my latest foodie discovery in London. The food is beautifully made, bursting with flavour with some super fresh, top quality ingredients that really shine through. Very well priced, it is also not going to break the bank. This is a gem of a place, and I cannot wait to return. Very highly recommended.

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