Morito Hackney Road is the newest addition to the family of Moro, the iconic restaurant on Exmouth Market with its additional and first Morito tapas located next door. I was lucky to eat in both Exmouth Market restaurants last year, and even luckier that last summer Morito sprung up in Hackney within a comfortable walking distance of my home, where I have spent both a hot summer evening and just last month a much needed comforting and colourful winter dinner.
The menu takes inspiration from North African, Spanish and Middle Eastern dishes and flavours. As you work your way through the menu it feels like you are feasting on souvenirs brought back from those countries, however reinvented and fused in new ways across the varied cuisines.
During our summer dinner, we started with the pan con tomato, bread with simple tomato and topped with Jamon, delicious. We then had a spread of the simple and refreshing chopped salad, the indulgent cheese fritters with thyme & honey, and creamy labneh topped with chillies and charred corn. After a lovely salad of green leaves with sesame brittle and dried figs, a plate of heaven arrived in the form of fried aubergines, drizzled with sweat date molasses and crumbled feta. I think it’s my raging sweet tooth, yet love of all things savoury and salty that makes these dishes seem like food crack to me. I had to stop myself from ordering another plate. We finished our ‘savoury’ plates with a dish of duck and chicory with a raison dressing, and a plate of spectacular simple charcoal grilled lamp chops, seasoned with paprika & anchovy butter.
Dessert again crossed boundaries from sweet to savoury with filo pastry topped with, gum mastic labneh and a salad of cherries & apricot. A perfect end.
On my last visit, I soothed the dark and alcohol free days of January with another colourfully sweet feast. The restaurant felt a a lot cosier than my previous dinner, they seemed to have mastered their lighting situation, having before felt a little like you were eating in a supermarket, another welcome addition was the thick velvet entrance curtin keeping the cold night out.
This feast began with more of that delicious pan con tomato topped with jamon, and of course more of those cheese fritters, which in my mid January detox (used in the loosest sense of the term) was a welcome treat. We revisited more old favourites such as the fried aubergines, a seasonal variation of the chopped salad and of course the lamb chops. New additions that we tried were crispy and delicious fired squid coated in sumac & z’ataar, meaty grilled octopus with lava bean & oloroso onions, and a rich warming dish of scallops, rice, vermouth and creamy aioli. We finished our savouries with the spiced tender lamb on a bed of velvety hummus topped with pine nuts, pomegranate and mint. A lip-smackingly wonderful dish which warranted a re order or the bread basket.
Our meal ended with the perfect balance of two ‘dulce’ dishes. The chocolate and olive oil mousse, with orange and hazelnuts and a plate of mentillo, manchego & le pearl. Both dishes were superb, and transported me to a super lux version of christmas, and the days which follow of Terry’s chocolate orange and plates of stilton and crackers.
I shall be returning again and again. A very happy addition to the neighbourhood.