How we were able to find ourselves seated on the smallest of small seats bunched in with a handful of other hungry diners wanting both food and shelter from the wintery gusts outside I will never know. But the hand written menu on the white tiles above the chefs hard at work signaled they were keeping everything fresh and but with limited availability as a waitress put a line through another of the dishes.
What set this place apart from the standard tapas places dotted around Central London is two-fold. Firstly Morito is the little brother of a restaurant located next door named Moro and both dining destination in their own right blur the lines between Spanish and Middle Eastern. Morito reminded me of a cross between a butcher shop and a tapas bar pulled out of Andalucia. White tiles and harsh lighting for the fit-out around the bar and sides while basic wooden tables and chairs take the rest of the available space.
Halfway through the meal WordMonkey looked at me and smiled. What amazing food. The place wasn’t even on our radar – it was a suggestion from John and Coran who were our fine dining friends in London. These boys have their finger on the pulse of the dining scene.
As you can see the dishes are small but easy to be shared and so fresh that the chefs will sometimes lean over the counter and hand you the next terracotta plate and take you through the dish. These guys were busy which made me wonder why they decided to open Morito immediately next door to the famously successful restaurant Moro. Yes it is run by the same peole but given the option people are going to head to the cheaper option. Moro was empty in comparision to the packed-to-the-gills Morito.
Back to the excellent cooking. The next wave of dishes arrived and I was particularly impressed by the chiccarones – small squares of pork belly flavoured with cumin. The fried chickpeas (sounded boring), recommended by both the boys, came with chopped tomatoes, chilli and coriander, and were a spicy, crunchy, compulsive treat.
Other dishes included looked a little something like this:
Spanish wine served in glass tumblers was good – helped along by the fact we had visited Cafe Kick which was just across the alleywayfrom Morito. Previously an ex toyshop it transformed itself into an authentic continental bar. Over time customers have helped decoreate its walls bringing back football flags and bank notes from all over the world.
Happy Hour is 4-7pm every day and they cook up a mean cocktail – even though they may look toxic. But they bring everyone together on the foosball tables dotted through the interior. you will see little old ladies going head to head with suited bankers fresh from the city – it really is a free for all.
We ended the meal with on a high after which we were well and truly fed and watered.
In total we ate our fill of around ten courses between the four of us which may sound alot but the dishes were quite small. Genuine, ambitious and innovative cooking, and funky location, Morito ticks all the right boxes. I just wish I was a local so I could duck in here for a quick dinner in transit to and from home.
32 Exmouth Market,