Morito is a tapas bar right next door to the famously successful Moro in Clerkenwell; it’s run by the same people, Sam and Sam Clark, and occupies a spot that used to belong to the legendarily good Spanish deli Brindisa. The menu at Morito changes on a daily basis and is inspired by the tastes and flavours of the western Mediterranean: Spain, Portugal, Gypsy and North Africa.
With a tiny interior, couples are invited to sit at the bar whilst larger groups huddle around small tables that line the walls. Sunny orange tones decorate the walls while lively music and the chitter-chat of diners fill the room. The smell coming from the grill and watching the restaurant staff deliver colourful dishes of food to other tables was getting me really excited for what we were about to eat.
Four of us were lucky to secure a table at around half 6 on a Friday night – you can’t make reservations for dinner (but you can call for lunch bookings) so we were glad to get a seat. We started by ordering a couple of carafe’s of house red to occupy us while we explored the menu. Served in short tumblers I felt as though I was on holiday – when your apartment doesn’t have wine glasses so you use the next best possible vessel!
The menu was divided into seven different categories, moritos, plancha, specials, montaditos, salads & vegetables, dulce and cheese. I’m not sure what many of them mean, so it didn’t help much – but for your reference now I can tell you plancha refers to anything grilled and montaditos is anything bruschetta like – i.e. served in or on bread. Dulce means “sweet” and the other categories are quite self explanatory. There were so many things to choose from that we resorted to acquiring a pencil from one of our handbags to mark next to what we wanted to order.
To start we ordered some quails’ eggs (£2.50), served with salt and dried celery spice, which we had to de-shell. To be honest that was a bit of a pain, yes they looked pretty but who can be bothered to do that at the dinner table!
For the next set of photos – I have to apologise, one of my friends got too excited and started serving herself before I got a chance to take a snap! Obviously forgot who she was out eating with 😉
The first tapas dish we received was the fried chickpeas, pumpkin, tahini & red onion (£4.50). The pumpkin was soft on the inside, crispy on the outside – mixed with the sweet raw red onion, fried chickpeas and freshly chopped coriander. It was drizzled in olive oil and decorated with a mouthwatering dollop of tahini.
At the same time we received two salt cod croquetas (£4.50) which we immediately split into four bites. Dipped in a creamy white sauce they were delicious. Warm, salty and full of fishy cod chunks.
The next dish was the simplest but probably one of my favourites. Patatas bravas (£4.00) is a dish native to Spain, consisting of white potatoes that have been cup into irregular shapes and fried in oil, served warm with a spicy tomato sauce. A must-have for any tapas meal I was glad we ordered them as they were so delicious. Smothered in a rich tomato sauce they were just divine.
Going from one extreme to another, the grilled tetilla cheese with walnuts and membrillo (£6.00) was the least liked dish by all the table. Tetilla cheese, also known as Queso de Perilla is traditionally baked inside a baked potato or frankfurter. Morito served the tetilla with dulce de membrillo, which is a type of firm, sticky, sweet reddish hard paste made of the quince (Google it, it’s definitely not the most appetising looking thing!). The oozing cheese paired well with the sweet membrillo paste but for us it was just a bit ‘blah’.
The spiced lamb, with aubergine, yoghurt & pine nuts (£6.50) on the other hand was lovely! Already anticipating that we’d like it, we ordered two between the four of us which was needed as it was one of the smaller dishes. Scattered with fresh pomegranate seeds and thin strips of mint, the lamb was served shredded on a bed of soft roasted aubergine. It was so juicy and moist, another winner.
The seventh dish of the evening was a serving of chicken, syrian lentils & labneh (£6.50). There are 12 dishes in total by the way… Keep reading! The syrian lentils, traditionally a Jewish dish, lined the bottom of the dish which the grilled chicken pieces rested on. Served warm with a splodge of yoghurt and herbs. I really enjoyed this dish but some of my dining partners were less fussed – again it was very simple, but well done in my opinion.
Next up was the chicharrones de cadiz (£6.50) – this one unsurprisingly required further explanation on the menu! Chichararron is basically a dish made of fried pork rinds, Morito served a slow roasted pork belly version flavoured with cumin and lemon. It was nice, I didn’t love it – but one of my dining partners did, so I think it was a meaty preference thing. It was a bit fatty and dry for me, but I did appreciate all the flavours.
Making way for the chorizo bocadillo (£5.50), we still weren’t ready to stop eating yet! A bocadillo is a sandwich made with Spanish bread cut lengthwise – the chorizo sausage inside the sandwich is cut lengthways also and combined with a fresh tomatoy sauce. This dish was harder to share so we had to take it apart and cut everything up so we all got a taste of it! I thought it was delicious! The chorizo was soooo rich and flavoursome, yum!
As we came to finishing up all the dishes we’d originally ordered – we “discussed” ordering more… we came up with the brilliant idea of asking our waitress whether we’d missed anything brilliant off our first order! We asked her what her favourite dish was to which she answered the puntillitas (fried baby squid and sumac). A couple of us aren’t big on sea food (well sea food with tentacles) so we asked her what else.
From that we were encouraged to order the beetroot borani, feta & walnuts (£4.00) and a bread basket (£2.50) for dipping. Sprinkled with fresh dill, it was a summery dish, great for sharing. The flatbread was warm and full of herbs which went magically with the beetroot and feta combination.
Our final dish was a portion of crispy aubergine, date molasses & labneh (£4.00) – this was so good! Unlike anything I’d tasted before, the aubergine was cut into strips like chips. It was served soaked in the sweet and sticky date molasses with a dollop of yoghurt.
I had such a wonderful food experience at Morito – it was definitely an experience to shout about and share. It was a great idea going as a group because it meant we were able to order more dishes. Because it’s so small it isn’t the more comfortable environment to relax in – after we’d finished our meal we decided to go somewhere else to get a drink and chat more, whereas usually we’d stay at the restaurant. That said, when you’re eating food as good as the selection provided at Morito you just don’t care. It was honestly amazing – and I really recommend you go and try it out.
ADDRESS: 32 Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QE
CONTACT: 020 7278 7007
OPENING HOURS: Monday to Saturday 12:00–4:00 pm, 5:00–11:00 pm and 12:00-4:00pm Sunday