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Posts Tagged ‘Exmouth Market’

Morito

Moro is a great restaurant, but if you want to eat just tapas, you have to sit at the bar.  Cue Morito, a small tapas-only sibling next door.  Almost half of Morito is comprised of bar seating (thumbs up for the under-counter bag hooks), and the other half is made up of table seating.  It’s casual and buzzy and often crowded.

Still, on a recent Monday evening, I was able to snag a table for three, though it was wedged awkwardly in the corner near a waiter’s station.

Morito is a lot of fun.  The tapas are small and most are priced under £4 per plate.  The service was friendly, and most dishes I tried were excellent.  The perfect place to have a drink and catch up with a friend.  (I wouldn’t go with a bigger group – you’ll never get a table).

quail's egg and jamon £4

Winners:

Pepper potato and onion tortilla:  The classic dish, and a good measure of the rest of the tapas to come, I think.  Morito’s had a good firm texture, creamy with potato, sweet from the peppers and onions, and finishing with  a little chili kick.  (£3.50)

Quail’s egg and jamon – Eggs and ham.  It’s salty; it’s creamy.  What’s not to love?  Its prettiness is icing on the cake.  (£4)

spiced labneh with aubergine £4

Spiced labneh with aubergine – tangy, rich labneh perfectly complemented the slightly-sweet-and-smoky aubergine.  (£4)

Puntillitas (aka baby squid) – the perfect bar snack.  Seasoned, breaded and fried.  (£6.50)

Good, but not great:

Red prawns and alioli – Shell-on prawns were sweet but kind of lacking in meat.  And I would love if they’d been more garlicky.  (£6.50)

Salt cod croquetas – I like more creamy bechamel in my croquetas.  Also, bacalao is not my fave.  (£4)

Crispy aubergine with miel de cana – These were way too sugary.  Miel de cana has the strong flavor of molasses.  (£3.50)

Patatas mojo (aka salt crusted potatoes with green chilli and coriander sauce) – Despite the delicious-sounding menu description, these were a bit bland.  (£3.50)

There was an impressively large number of dishes to choose from, and generally, all were pretty good.

With cheap and cheerful tumblers of wine, each of us paid £20.  And because I still had room for dessert, I treated myself to an affogato down the block at Caravan, which is great on atmosphere, coffee and desserts.  (Dinner there, however, was underwhelming, in case you were wondering).

There’s lots of other dishes I wish I’d tried at Morito, including the mussel and chorizo empanadilla, the lamb chops with cumin and paprika, and the spiced lamb with aubergine, yoghurt and pine nuts.

So I’ll be back.  But only with one friend.

Morito, 32 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QL; closest tube stations:  Angel or Farringdon, but it’s a healthy 10-15 minute walk, so try to catch a bus like the 38.
Morito on Urbanspoon

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The Eagle gastropub

When my stateside friends visit London, I usually assume that as much as I love Huong Viet, my friends have not come to Blighty to say they ate Vietnamese food. Instead, I end up suggesting we eat gastropub food and Indian food, which are two types of eating that I think are uniquely plentiful in London. [Well, OK, maybe uniquely isn’t quite right re: Indian food . . . I mean, you could go to India, but you hopefully see what I’m saying . . . .]

The Eagle gastropub opened in 1991, and if you’ve ever read about the history of gastropubs (such a popular reading topic, no?), the Eagle is invariably mentioned as the first one, because the Eagle’s owners geniusly invented the word.

Although the Eagle, located near Exmouth Market, is just a 20 minute-walk from our flat, I’d never been there until yesterday. With so many gastropubs opening up all the time (and my belief in evolution, I suppose), how could the 16-year-old Eagle still be going strong?

Hey, well, everyone makes mistakes. Because a fellow London blogger visited the Eagle a few weeks ago and raved about it, Jon and I decided to check it out yesterday night. The Mediterranean-influenced food, while no-frills compared to what’s served now in most gastropubs, was pretty good.

We dropped by at around 9:30 pm, and although the Eagle was packed and has a no-reservations policy, we didn’t have to wait too long for a table. The room is high-ceilinged and dark, and compared to most gastropubs these days, it has a slightly grungy feel. I imagine old French bistros used to feel this way: loud, convivial and with rickety tables and chairs.

Snagging a table near the bar, we looked at the chalkboard menus and were sad to see the grilled lambchops-and-rice dish had been crossed out. Suddenly we felt the urgent need to order, lest the kitchen run out of other yummy-sounding dishes! So we bellied up to the bar and ordered two glasses of rioja, a veggie bruschetta, skate and runner beans, and Napoli sausages with figs and cannelloni beans. (These days, gastropubs are a lot more like restaurants, and servers come to your table to take your oder, but not so at the Eagle. They’re the original and sticking to it . . . ).

The portions were enormous, which made me feel better about having spent £10 on grilled sausages and beans, basically.

Napoli sausages and figs at the Eagle gastropub

Presentation (as you can see from my photo of said sausages) was not a priority, but I did love how charred and smoky the sausages were from the grill, and the figs added a nice, tangy sweetness. If you’ve ever tried to find sausages in London with a spicy kick, then you’ll enjoy these as much as I did. The beans were just filler, and I think a better carb of choice would have been a good hunk of fresh bread. Believer in self help that I am, I just raided the bread basket.

The bruschetta was toweringly huge and could easily have been a main course, which explained the £7.50 price tag. It’s a grilled, thick slice of bread piled high with roasted vegetables and topped with a honkin’ large ball of surprisingly un-tasty buffalo mozzarella. It wasn’t awful, but having grilled a lot of veggies lately, I’ve done a lot better at home.

Overall, a good experience, and I appreciate all that the Eagle has done for the London mid-priced dining scene. That said, with all the excellent gastropubs closer to my flat, I’m not sure I’ll head out to the Eagle again soon.

If you don’t feel like cooking on a weeknight and crave simple, well-prepared food, the Eagle’s a perfect choice. And if you go, go with a group so you have a fighting chance to finish the large portions.

The Eagle on Urbanspoon

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