Momo’s, also known as London’s original Arabic den, is a vibrant but cozy Moroccan restaurant in Central London.
This dynamic restaurant originated when Parisian-Algerian Mourad Mazouz (founder) arrived London sometime in 1995 searching for a place to eat his much loved couscous. He tried on numerous occasions but couldn’t find any suitable to his home tradition taste buds and therefore decided to take charge and open his own two years later. Not only does Momo’s offer food but a traditionally styled Moroccan cafe which offers drinks and afternoon tea next door, an outdoor terrace where you can enjoy a mint tea and flavored shisha and a basement bar which includes a highly talked about music program.
Having spent many years of my childhood in North Africa I felt that the traditional decor and music choices of Momo’s was very in sync with Northern Africa giving it an ultimate feeling of being away from the bustling streets of London.
Walking in, the staff were a bit disorientated even though I had a booking, i’m guessing it was because they were so busy. I didn’t let that get me down as I had heard so many good things about the place and couldn’t wait to try the food.
Once seated and given the very extensive mouthwatering menu the first thing that caught my eye was Momo’s dining experience motto: “A tribute to the 5 senses of our guests” I couldn’t help but feel even more excited about what I was about to eat. I also loved the fact that they mention incorporating their own own interpretation of the cuisine as well as keeping tradition alive.
Between my friend (Mr.B) and I, we decided on sharing two starters and a main. He recommended his favorite starter which was the Pigeon Pastilla (£9.00) a fine pastry filled with sweet and spiced wood pigeon & almond. I got to choose the second starter and went for the Ceviche of the day (£9.50) a beautiful fish carpaccio decorated with green chillies, fresh lime & coconut milk.
The pigeon pastilla was absolutely divine, I completely understood why Mr.B had to order it. It was dusted with some sort of fine flour and as soon as he cut it in half and advised me to take each bite with the marinated desiccated orange piece I tasted a combination of beautiful flavors all at once, the bitterness of the dried orange, the crunchiness of the almonds and the mild saltiness of the pigeon was very special, and delicious. Even for those who don’t enjoy the taste of bitterness can opt for the pastilla on its own as that tastes fantastic as well.
To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what ‘Ceviche of the day’ was supposed to be so I asked the waiter. It turns out that it was a type of raw fish or as most like to say ‘Carpaccio’. I was really drawn to this dish as it mentioned lime, chilli mixed in with coconut milk. It sounded too exotic to resist. This Ceviche is definitely a great example of Momo’s less traditional-but own interpretation cuisine.
The Ceviche was served on a bed of very thick coconut milk (they say milk but i’d say cream) and lettuce, decorated with red chillies, chives and a very generous squeeze of lime. It was extremely refreshing but I felt the coconut cream was a bit thick for such a delicate fish and the spice didn’t tingle in my mouth as much as I hoped it to. Some may argue and say that overuse of spice may ruin the dish but this really points to personal preference.
Unfortunately our choice of Couscous Mechoui for two (£59.00) – slow charcoal whole roasted lamb shoulder with authentic spices and ras el hanour spiked fig, another favorite and special recommendation of Mr.B’s was sold out. So,we opted for the Couscous Momo (£28.00) a lamb shank, charcoal grilled lamb skewers and merguez instead.
We opted for a bottle of French red ‘Vin De Pays De L’hearault 2011’ (£21.00) which is quite unusual as usually when I dine with Mr.B we go for white but seeing as we ordered meat red seemed like the best option.
The lamb shank was served with an extremely delicate couscous (“feels like i’m munching on clouds” – Mr.B’s exact words…) and a flavorful broth with chunky pieces of assorted vegetables. After two starters the portion size of what was meant to be for one seemed adequate to share between the two of us.
The lamb shank was soft to the touch but could have been cooked for even longer to really have the meat fall completely off the bone with one slice of the knife. Otherwise it was cooked with a fantastic combination of spices and what differed in taste between the shank and the grilled lamb skewers was that the skews were a lot saltier. I particularly enjoyed the merguez (spicy meat sausage) accompaniment, plus there were two so one for each!
If I return to London and have the opportunity to dine here again (which I totally would!) I would absolutely love to try the Saddle of lamb (£24.50) – a creamy spelt, woodland mushrooms and spiced lamb jus. Just thinking of that makes my mouth water.
This is the perfect place to take a date as there is no denying how romantic the low lights and candlelit tables are.
As a perfect way to digest and end the night we moved to the outdoor terrace to enjoy a steaming hot glass of mint tea. If you like the smell of shisha and the sound of giddy chatter this would certainly be ideal.
25 Heddon St London, W1B 4BH, United Kingdom
+44 20 7434 4040