She says: He recently passed the ‘Life in the UK test’ at the Islington centre with flying colours, so what finer way to celebrate than with a moreish lunch at Morito! Nestled in Exmouth Market next to bigger sister ‘Moro’, the unassumingly small tapas and mezze bar is a hands down favourite among Clerkenwell locals and beyond. The main attraction of Morito is the bright and bold tangerine coloured bar where diners can perch and enjoy themselves with a glass of wine in hand, overlooking the chefs cooking dishes to order. Morito draws inspiration from Spanish and North African influences, cuisine which can be found predominantly in Southern parts of Spain in cities such as Granada and Cordoba, where the Moors invaded and inhabited. Scattered on the bar are an assortment of Morrocan style tagines and clay pots, filled with all kinds of seasonings, spices and herbs.
The food: The nice thing about Morito is that all dishes on the menu are designed to be shared, meaning that we can try a lot more food between the two of us! To kick things off, we start with the ‘Puntillitas’ or baby squid which are fried and sprinkled with sumac. This spice is somewhat of staple in Middle Eastern cuisine, with an acidic taste that is meant to resemble the tartness of a lemon. I must admit that I’m so familiar with the ‘Chinese’ presentation of salt and pepper squid with brilliant red and green chillis and coriander all over the plate, that the sumac did little to add to the vibrancy of this dish’s presentation. Looks aside, the puntillitas were crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside so all was forgiven! Being the spice lovers that we are, I imagine that this dish would be even more crowd pleasing with a sauce accompaniment on the side – a little mayo or tomato sauce with hot ‘pimenton’ smoked paprika that accompanies ‘patatas bravas’ wouldn’t have gone astray!
While small in size, the palamos prawns were fresh and exquisitely sweet in flavour – slightly charred from being grilled. A creamy ‘alioli’ accompanied the prawns, which is a spanish garlicky mayonaise.
He says: I love seafood, but dislike when chefs overcook or overseason it. To me, the natural flavours of the seafood should be the star of the show so I liked the simplicity of the palamos prawns.
She says: The spiced lamb, aubergine, yoghurt and pine nuts was probably one of my favourite dishes – could do with a few servings of this. The flavours combined were in perfect harmony – the yoghurt was generously smothered over the aromatic aubergines and the pomegranate added a refreshing touch. I love this in my salads!
He says: Another winner for me was the ‘pulpo a la gallega’ or octopus with potato and paprika – tender and mouthwatering! Having been to Santiago de Compostela last year in the Galicia region, we ate the region’s signature octopus dish every day as it was so so good! The texture of the boiled octopus may not be everyone’s cup of tea, slightly chewy – but the pulpo here at Morito was delicious and subtle in flavour.
Other dishes that we tasted included scallops, sherry vinegar and butter sauce. I usually like my scallops big and meaty, but these were still delicious nonetheless.
The lamb chops, cumin and paprika… cooked to a perfect medium rare on the grill. Good for those who like their meat spicy!
The verdict: Morito is a one of our new favourite alternatives for a casual weekend brunch! Given it’s quite a small place and the tapas style dishes are designed to be shared, we would recommend that you pay a visit with a significant other or +1 and book beforehand! Sitting at the bar is fun and interactive as you get to see the chefs in action. The bill came to about 70 quid for two people, so it’s not the cheapest lunchtime meal, but you’ll be savouring every bite! We were too full for desserts but there is a small selection for you to choose from here. Also within the neighbourhood, you’ll also find Brill Cafe (opposite Morito) or Caravan if you’re feeling like a coffee hit or something sweet after. There’s also Necco Japanese Cafe bar within walking distance which looks quite quirky and has a range of tea and cake. Next on the list to conquer together… Moro!