Restaurant review: Moro, EC1

Jon Dean dines at a very Moorish restaurant

�North African cuisine is �enjoying the limelight at present. It’s possible cheap flights to Morocco have awoke something in the populace, or it may be a subconscious act of solidarity with the Arab spring. Either way, you certainly see more tagines and cous-cous in London than you used to.

Moro, however, was well ahead of the game. This classy Moorish-influenced restaurant first flung open its doors in 1997, and has been well-regarded from day one.

Legend has it that two cooks, Sam and Sam Clark, set off in a camper van on a quest to discover the flavours of the south Mediterranean and Morocco. They returned, got married, and set up Moro in the pleasing pedestrian thoroughfare that is that is Exmouth Market.

As soon as you step through the door things look promising.

A large space with an open plan kitchen is softened by strategically placed drapes, cushions and curtains.

The lights are low, but candles are plentiful and the odd incense burner helps set an Arabic tone.

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A Moorish influence is clear throughout the menu, but often married to British fare.

Typical on our visit were dishes like roasted pork with trinxat, or bream with chard and almond.

Also worth noting for the �herbivores contingent, during our visit only one vegetarian main was available.

Not a problem for us though, and we tucked into a charcoaled quail, served slightly pink with an excellent crisp skin, accompanied by a winter tabbouleh, which I found a touch too aromatic.

The shredded lamb was tangy and succulent and came on a bed of delicious smoked aubergine puree. Both dense flavours were set off well by the smooth humus and crispy pitta.

For our mains we had the sea bass and more lamb.

The fish was excellent and came with a fragrant seafood risotto, while the lamb was mouth-wateringly tender, served with creamy leeks. The meat was cooked �medium rare – the chef giving you no option on this. Even the cheese board managed to veer away form it’s European origins.

The pungent array came with aniseed puff pasty which worked particularly well with the mellow Brie.

Overall, a very satisfying dinner featuring good cuts of meat with many scented flavours.

Nice touches like the decor and wine recommendations with any courses served to enhance our meal, as did the red coming at a good temperature.

The tapas board, apparently popular with daytime visitors, also looked excellent.

Moro is one of Islington’s best regarded eateries, and deservedly so based on our visit.