Moro

September 22, 2013
It was my birthday this week and because I am always planning everything, I gave TBH a list of restaurants I wanted to try and told him to surprise me. The list was varied and in the end he had to get help from a colleague who is just as into food as I am. Lucky me, as had it not been for her, he would probably have gone for one of the safe options on the list.  
Moro is located in Exmouth Market, a really cool little pedestrianised street a short walk from Angel tube station. Specialising in Moorish/Spanish cuisine, it celebrates its 17thbirthday this year, which in restaurant years is an absolute lifetime, but that just tells you how special this place is!  TBH booked a late lunch table and when we arrived at 2pm, every table was occupied and the place was buzzing with the sound of people having a good time. I loved it as soon as I walked in. There is a long bar spanning the breadth of the restaurant where you can sit and have tapas and an open kitchen at the back. Next door, they have a separate restaurant specialising in tapas called Morito – much smaller, but I hear, just as good as Moro. 
Once seated, a basket of gorgeous chunks of bread and a bowl of very good olive oil was left for us while we pondered on the menu. A real mix of Middle Eastern and Spanish flavours, it was difficult to choose. In the end I went for the Charcoal grilled quail with aubergine and spiced labneh (£8.50) to start. It arrived as a whole spatchcock quail with a beautifully creamy labneh and little flecks of piquillo pepper scattered over the dish. A little awkward to eat with a knife and fork, I eventually downed tools and ate it with my hands. The bird was moist and spiced so delicately that you could taste each and every flavour coming through. 
TBH, a much braver soul than I am, went for the seared ox heart with fresh fig and sultana grape tabouleh (£8.00). He first asked the waitress how this was served and when she confirmed that it came thinly sliced, he proceeded with ordering it. His theory is that he doesn’t know he won’t like it until he tries it. As you would expect with an ox heart, it was big! The slices not as thin as he would’ve liked, but if you did not know what it was, you could easily be mistaken for thinking it was a piece of steak. It was delicious and I would consider ordering it if I saw it on a menu again. 
For my main dish, I ordered wood roasted pork with piquillo pepper sauce and patatas alinadas (£18.50). The waitress warned me that this was a slightly fatty cut, but what is a good pork chop without a decent layer of crispy fat? It has to be rendered properly though so that it melts in your mouth and doesn’t taste chewy and I am happy to report that it was all of those things. Crispy, melt-in-your-mouth goodness! The portion was ginormous though and I could’ve done with only one pork chop instead of the two that were served. The patatas alinadas blew my mind! I had never heard of them before and was told that they are a very common potato dish in the Southern areas of Spain. Laden with olive oil, 3 different types of vinegars, green peppers and onions; it was an absolute flavour sensation and I could’ve easily eaten a bowl of that on its own. The piquillo sauce I would’ve liked to be a little fiery, but tasted more like a romesco sauce to me. Surprisingly, looking at the sheer size of the dish, it was light and I didn’t feel uncomfortably full afterwards. (But that could be because I only ate one of the chops!)
TBH ordered the wood roasted chicken with cucumber chips, dill yoghurt, red chilli and grilled aubergine (£18.50). He has a thing about not ordering the same as I do and he would’ve gone for the pork dish that I ordered, but I got dibs on it as it was my birthday. Yay me! Never the less, he was served a quarter piece of chicken that was soft and juicy. The cucumber crisps had been battered with a tempura-like batter and added a nice texture. I expected these to be soggy and limp pieces of cucumber, but they were very good. A nice dish, but I think I won this round with my choice. 
Now most people will know that I am not one for desserts, but TBH insisted that I choose something. (Suspicions aroused!) So I chose the cheese platter that consisted of Carpuelo, Picos de Europa and Torta cheeses with membrillo (£9.00) I didn’t have a clue what any of it would be, but it turned out to be a hard, soft and blue cheese with a quince jelly; all of which were delicious. The little birthday candle propped into one of the cheeses was a nice touch too. 
For his dessert, TBH ordered the chocolate and apricot tart (£7.00). This looked like it had a mousse-type consistency on top with a layer of apricot jam underneath. It looked gorgeous and I am told that it was. 
The wine list is extensive and almost entirely Spanish. I asked the waitress to recommend a bottle and she recommended the Pasion de Bobal Bodega Sierra Norte. (26.00) I don’t usually comment on the wine, but this was really smooth and I drank almost the entire bottle on my own! I liked the fact that she didn’t take my asking as an open invitation to choose the most expensive wine on the list. She listened to what I liked and recommended a bottle based on that. 
Service was charming and totally relaxed. Our waitress, Ruth, was able to talk us through any questions knowledgeably and with real passion. She clearly loves her job and the restaurant and it shows. 
Our total bill came to £122.63 including a bottle of wine, 2 beers and service. Such great value for a truly wonderful meal. I can’t believe we have never been to Moro before, but believe me, it won’t be our last visit!
 
Until we eat again!
 
 Square Meal Moro on Urbanspoon

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