The Halal: The meat and poultry is halal. Alcohol is served here but currently no pork products on the menu.
The Place: Tucked away on quaintly cobbled Heddon street, you’ll find Momo – a Moroccan oasis of colourful lamps, rich carpets and luscious North African delicacies. Mourad Mazouz, the Parisian-Algerian restauranteur behind ‘Sketch’ oozes cool. He has an eye for capturing beauty and Momo is the spot where Arabian mystique meets French chic. Step through fragrant puffs of smoke from the bubbling sheesha’s in the garden terrace into Aladdin’s cave of wonders.
The venue also has a main restaurant and an underground bar. However, on this occasion we came to the cafe for an intriguing Moroccan afternoon tea. Low-lying ornate tables, wooden stools and a scattering of cushions make the room feel authentically arabian.
The Food: Tiered brass cake stands delivered the nibbles for tea. Unfortunately we were told there were not enough cake stands for our large party and thus our tea would arrive piecemeal. As such, service was disappointing. We commenced with the savoury plate had salmon and cream cheese sandwiches – nothing Moroccan about those as far as I’m concerned. Cheese briouats: triangular pastries filled with cheese- delicious! Zaalouk and mechouia served on thin crisp toast: now we’re talking! This held true to the brief: caviar of smoked aubergine and roasted pepper compote. Moroccan chicken wrap- the star of the show! The chicken was moist and melted in your mouth, perfectly spiced and in a crispy tortilla wrap. The only shame: there was only one wrap per person- I could have easily eaten four!
My love of savouries has always been stronger than my sweet tooth so perhaps I’m biased when I say the savoury plates were the best part of the meal. The sweet plates had a selection of meghrebine pastries: I found these dense and far too sweet. A lemon creme pain de gene: not particularly exciting. The chocolate brownie was nice. I thought the pistachio macaroon was a new experience of flavour. However, my clear favourites were the scones with strawberry and fig jam. The jam could have been more fig-y but the scones were warm and fluffy and served in a traditional straw basket: Laziz as they would say in arabic! However, looking at the entire tea overall, the balance of sweet and savoury was a bit discordant.
The tea selection itself was exhilarating: traditional mint tea in small glass cups (refills possible!) The green tea selection: citrus fruits, hammam tea (a turkish recipe), fakirs (with spices). The Black teas: Assam, oriental flowers chinese tea, bergamot. Concubines tea ( a mixture of green and black tea with notes of vanilla, mango, cherry and rose). Red rooibos loose leaf and a semi-fermented orange blossom tea. For those who are not excited by a pot of hot, fresh brew, I’m told the hot chocolate was excellent.
The Verdict: Momo is an enchanting restaurant tapping into the current trend of afternoon tea with its unique perspective. On this occasion though, perhaps more style over substance.