The new Morito is in super trendy east London adjacent to ‘ Premises,’ one of the oldest jazz studios in London used by Nina Simone, Al Greene and Dave Brubeck. So what could be cooler!
You walk into a warm, buzzy, cafe atmosphere and at first it might feel rather assaulting. The strip lighting, concrete floors, and glass frontage invites the outside world in, and that means street lights, buses, passers by, rather than shuts it out to create a cosy, secluded setting.
So Morito is very much part of the ‘hood’ , classic Hackney, and suits the plethora of young, keen professionals and big groups filling the tables, engaged in animated conversation and clearly enjoying the night.
But the food is from faraway, drawing on Morocco, Spain, and Greece, with their luscious, sunny flavours and spices. It’s the food that speaks boldly here rather any attempt to wow you with the setting.
The menu has a sweeping, imaginative range, and the variety of fresh, pungent dishes keep on coming.
We loved having our table crammed with contrasting plates, jumbled up and bursting with colour and ingredients. The gurnard was a sheer delight, harking of the Mediterranean with its rosemary, olives and sweet tomatoes; the sea urchins on toast evoked the velvety taste of the sea; fattoush salad just delicious and light, with sweetish pomegranate seeds and delicate cucumber; sea bass ceviche with Seville oranges, fine, delectable, balmy.
I was with my actress, script writer friend who claims to be on a par with me as a food and wine lover. She was in her element, and we ordered so enthusiastically we risked having to push together two tables to fit the varied plates, bottles and glasses. It’s all a bit rustic here, rolled up sleeves, dipping in your flatbread, a hearty appetite let loose.
There are recommended sherries with each dish, a colourful touch, to add to the exuberance in the air.
Now did we have room for desert? Are you kidding? Faced with a choice of chocolate and olive oil mousse, hazelnuts and orange raspberry, or almond and yoghurt ice cream…… we said, Bring it on.
Morito might not be hushed, calm, plush or comfortable, but if you want vibrant, dynamic, sensational small dishes, and a lot of fun, I’d recommend going straight there.