Morito made me love aubergine.
Normally I’m all about personal accountability but I swear on this occasion, it’s totally, completely & utterly their fault. Never really liked it before but the way they do it here in the little sister of Clerkenwell stalwart Moro? Well let’s just say the aubergine and I have a lot of lost time to make up for.
There are so many things I loved about this new girl on Hackney Road but I have to start with the biggest & most important in my mind, and the fact that there’s now something else in the world for me to devour with passion is pretty significant to me.
As a Tube devotee who balks at the first world problem of finding overground stations near my final destination, I wouldn’t say this is the easiest place in the world to get to but I swear on all that is good and delicious – yes, I am talking about those aubergines again – that it’s absolutely worth it.
I expected more tables given the generous size of the open plan dining room however the kitchen and bar area take up a fair portion so unless you’re super lucky or arrive as the door is being opened, chances are you may have to wait for a little bit…try not to ogle the meals of those lucky enough to be chowing down already while you do so but if you’re successful, please, let me know how the heck you managed it.
The Wednesday night we arrived heralded two seats in the window by the door almost instantly, perfect for people watching, a bit more challenging plate wise given that we ordered enough food to feed every participating country of the upcoming Olympic games.
A perfectly sized menu lists a good number of options under each heading and at just £14.50 for the most expensive plate on offer, this is a great place to come with a group of your greediest friends to share both the dishes & the bill; I hate hearing that somewhere new & exciting has opened up only to discover that I can’t afford to enjoy it and the accessibility of Morito’s prices warrants another nod of approval from those not on a fat cat, city banker salary.
Easing my stomach in gently heralded winners including a plate of pan con tomate with jamon – warm & soft with the sun soaked flavours of the Med spilling out with each bite – and a beautifully varied bread basket.
‘I’m sorry, I’m not eating bread’ confessed my dining buddy.
‘I’m not sorry in the slightest’, I retorted as I tore apart piece after piece with the sort of voracity that might lead you to conclude I was carb-loading for the London Marathon.
A safe but nicely spiced chopped salad with avocado was very acceptable though you’ll find there are more exciting things to opt for in the vegetable group which was pretty much where I wanted to set up camp for the night.
The afore lusted over aubergines were served as a plate of crispy chips topped with soft nuggets of feta and sweet streak of sticky date molasses and oh, I would crawl back from whatever damn overground station I could find to eat another plate of these…as it was, my arms were wrapped protectively round the dish like some sort of vegetable hoarding miser much to my friend’s consternation. Apparently slapped fingers aren’t considered acceptable dining etiquette.
The pocket sized cheese fritters with Cretan thyme honey are rapidly becoming this years’ bao bun in terms of get-there-and-eat-them-now dishes and justifiably so; softly crunchy exteriors give way to the lightest, fluffiest, moussiest cheese inside and it’s the sort of thing that will cause you to forgo all thoughts of being a good neighbour who shares equally and affably with their dining companions.
This dish is the very dictionary definition of ‘may the best man win’ and y’know what?
I totally did.
Soft and sheeny stuffed peppers sank comfortably under dollops of oil slick labneh…
…and nutty, earthy, savoury cashews & dukkah dusted beans were the sort of side you can imagine heaped onto a serving platter with legs of caramelised lamb for al fresco dining under the sunshine.
A dish as blue as the Cypriot skies themselves convinced me that I could not only like pork belly but actually devour the majority of a portion of chicaronnes that arrived charred, chewy, crispy and oozing glossy juices at the lightest pressing of a fork, a finger, a greedy gulp.
Lamb chops were chargrilled and swaying gently – much like my delightd tummy at this point – in a pool of golden anchovy butter; they’re small so account for that when ordering and when you think you’ve counted up the right number for your group, throw another 3 or 4 on top of that for luck…
…and a generous serving of blushing baby pink prawns nestled alongside sweet spears of asparagus, light, fragrant and spring fresh.
I was far too much of an Augustus Gloop on this visit which means I’ll be starting with dessert and working my way backwards next time – that’s what happens when you’re left along with a bread basket and the assorted dukkah sprinkled, labneh marbled remains of the WHOLE MENU – but I’ve already earmarked the filo, cherry & peach salad.
There’s a lot of places bidding for your time and your money in the capital right now but I urge you to make Morito one that you actually make a conscious effort to visit…
…just err, don’t get the aubergine, yeah, you won’t like that, best leave it for me…