One of the pleasures of having someone visit you from overseas is that you get to pulled out to places that you would normally never visit. Thanks to London’s burgeoning reputation for being one of the world’s leading cities for dining out. People are coming to London eager to try out places that they have read about. These are restaurants that you have heard good reviews about but haven’t had the time to visit.
This was the case with Morito. I have heard exultant reports about their two branches, one in Hackney and one in Exmouth Market. I visited the Hackney branch on a Wednesday with the place packed out. The restaurant is light and open, ideal for dining out on summer nights. The seating is a little clustered, making getting up and out of your seats a matter of successive yoga poses. But the atmosphere is ideally suited to the type of food on offer, set up for sharing small plates in a bustling environment.
My companion and I started with a mixture of three dishes. We went for the cheese fritters and Cretan thyme honey, charcoal grilled squid, harissa, preserved lemon and slow cooked pork shoulder, fried potatoes, tarragon & quince aioli. The cheese fritters were a curious mixture of flavours and texture. The sharpness of the cheese cut against the elegant sweetness of the honey. It took a while to appreciate the congregation of the different aspects of the two contrasting tastes. It didn’t immediately come together but the more and more I let it develop, the more nuance it offered.
The charcoal grilled squid was sumptuous, not too overdone on the grill and with a real richness in terms of the depth of flavour. The slow cooked pork shoulder was probably the highlight of the entire meal. The incredible way in which the complexity of the meat revealed itself made for a fantastic gustatory experience in itself, let alone when combined with the tarragon and quince aioli. It was a dish that merited lingering over, enjoying each and every aspect.
We finished off with custard with crispy filo and apricot. This did not have anything like the complexity of the main dishes but was attractive in its own way. It was the ideal way to round off an extremely enjoying meal. Dining at Morito at this time of year is perfect for the type of food that they offer and the environment in which it is served. And I’m grateful for my companion for travelling thousands of miles to get to me to eat at a place that was oh so close by.
195 Hackney Rd