The Skinny Bib has relocated to Islington and I headed off first to the Exmouth Market where the new Bib Gourmand eatery is. You don’t know? Well, my destination is Morito, a Moorish (aka Moroccan-meet-Spanish tapas) tapas bar. It was a casual scene with great vibe. There was a tapas bar, which you could also call a “mezze” bar as the food did have some Moroccan influences, that engulfed the kitchen. Unluckily, the place was packed and I was obliged to relocate myself to the bar at Moro, the yummy mummy restaurant next to Morito.
You can book a table and sit down for proper food. I didn’t have a reservation and the place was fully booked, so I resorted to the bar nibbles.
There they went, from top to bottom, left to right: Sardine Empanadilla, Jamon Iberico, Sobrasada (a kind of dry sausage paste), Patatas Bravas, Manchego with Membrillo, (free) Bread, Tortilla, Buttifara with Alioli (cured offal sausage) and Babaganoush. All the dishes were tiny – really bar nibble portion! The Sobrasada was quite sweet; the tortilla was served cold and did not taste very nice; five skinny slices of Buttifara offal plus alioli priced at £4.50 were the joke of the night. Did that cost £1 a piece and extra 50p for the alioli? The rest, I had not much to complain about, was forgettable. Actually, after the meal, I even found it hard to believe I had just had dinner.
Was it all that bad? I must say, there stood one redeeming dish of babaganoush. My other bib found it very lush, smoky, alluringly smooth and no bitterness from the aubergine whatsoever. “The best I’ve had”, exclaimed he. And I couldn’t agree more.
But, was one graceful dish enough?
My original choice of restaurant with the Bib Gourmand, I hoped, would prove adequate compared to its not-so-yummy mummy restaurant next door. So I went, a few days afterwards. As it was a weekday, the place was not quite busy. Yet, the guys there did not seem to care much about us. We waved for drinks; we waved for menu; we waved for dishes; we waved for more orders; and we waved for the bill. There were times when the chefs just walked over and gave us dishes. Reflecting on this, we should have asked for the optional 12% service charge to be waived.
Let’s take it back a little. There was a massive board at Morito on which the menu was advertised. However, as we were told, this board wasn’t updated. We were told to strictly pick the dishes from the paper menu. So? What’s the point of having the menu on the board? Decorative? If so, you might as well draw something or it rather than unnecessarily heighten people’s expectations only to turn them down.
Enough bitching, I’m moving on to the food. The menu at Morito read ‘expectations’. There were so dozens of dishes to choose from, many of which were instantaneously cooked in front of you. I was baffled how promising the menu was, though I was not sure how many dishes I should order. As far as my previous experience at Moro Bar went, the M dishes were tiny.
I ended up ordering a handful.
Their Beetroot Borani with Feta and Walnut was amazing. The sweet beetroot paste mixed with light yoghurt went well with the slightly salted, creamy feta crumble, while the walnut added bites. The Salt Cod Croquetas were pleasantly hot and salted. There wasn’t much of dimension, but adequately nice.
The Butifarra Sausage with White Beans and Alioli, here priced at £5.50, was ridiculously small. Say, £1 per slice, £1 more for the beans and the other 50p for the alioli? It did not have much taste, just beany. The pieces were not powerful enough to make this a sausage dish. Just, just beany. The Slow Roasted Pork Belly was alright. Crispy outside, melting grease within.
The good-looking Quail’s Egg & Jamon Montaditos – aka on toast! – was underwhelming. The bread was chewy. The yolk was too cooked for my liking, hence no luxurious creamy lava bursting. The Seared Venison with Piquillo Sauce was decent. Nicely pink inside and tender in texture. The sauce, I felt, was too light and flavourless. It failed to enhance the flavours of the venison. Also, the dish was a little too lukewarm instead of being hot.
Due to our tantalising experience of babaganoush at Moro Bar, we decided to get more “babaganoush” kind of dish. And it was this Spiced Lamb with Aubergine, Yughurt and Pine Nuts. It delivered.
Heavenly and aromatically spiced lamb worked o-so-well with the babaganoush sort of paste. The flavours of the lamb were bold and deep; the smoky creaminess of the babaganoush added dimension to this. Brilliant. And I truly felt they should be rolling out dishes like this, rather than having an extensive menu less than half of which delivered in terms of flavours.
The other two dishes I asked for in my second round of order were below average. The Lamb Tagine with Prunes was falling apart rather than tender and melting in your mouth. The pungent flavour of the lamb, also, seemed to go amiss, leaving the sweet flavour of the prunes more distinctive. Not nice. The Octopus with Potato & Smoked Paprika, to me, tasted like a lazy dish. The octopus was cooked into a soft piece of rubber with not much else added to it. The potato slices were almost boiled enough to be mashed. Not much seasoning going there either.
Overall, Morito delivered just a bit above Moro Bar. But, comparing this to other Bib Gourmand places, such as Trullo or Zucca, Morito is just not worth the pennies. The portion size was equally stupidly small, which made places I had complain about previously about portion size – say, Opera Tavern – become a glutton’s heaven. The menu, though with a good potential, was too ambitious, and I felt if they could slim it down to just a handful of strong dishes, Morito could become a gastronomic firework. But, at present, I would say, with regrets, that it is not.
My head rating for Moro Bar says, “5 out of 10″.
My heart rating for Moro Bar says, “5 out of 10″.
My head rating for Morito says, “6 out of 10″.
My heart rating for Morito says, “6 out of 10″.
34-36 Exmouth Market
City of London
32 Exmouth Market
City of London
Tel. 020 7833 8336