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bar food

Momo - Restaurant Review


Momo - Restaurant Review


Momo - Restaurant Review Multi-coloured light shines through the stained-glass windows of the ceiling in triangles, and everywhere there are glass lamps, carved wooden symbols, and ornate mirrors.  In the middle of all this opulence there is a feast of tiered pastries and sweets crowned with luscious fruits, layered gold henna-d tea glasses, as well as Persian rugs, bronze statues and intricate silver vessels…even the answering machine has a Moroccan accent.

Momo - Restaurant Review

It’s like stepping into a restaurant off the Jemma el-Fnaa - almost.  But then there are a few things that sending you hurtling back to the western world:  the giant green chair outside belongs more to a car boot sale than this North African sanctuary, the bathrooms (including hand dryer) have been sprayed with rust-coloured sparkles, and the music projected into this emporium is more of a late night Kiss-FM mash up than Berber folk.

Momo - Restaurant Review

We were seated around a marble table next to the gold focal display dripping with glucose-laden delights, convenient for us to salivate over (figuratively only, of course) throughout the meal.

Momo - Restaurant Review

But as one of my dining companions noted, we had ended up being seated at the only wobbly table in the room -dangerous, if you’re as clumsy as I am.

Momo - Restaurant Review

The restaurant was empty for the first half hour, meaning that service was good – efficient but not intrusive, and with waiters at our exclusive beck and call.  This was not a sign of any absence of quality, but rather people’s lack of awareness that Momo does brunch.  The popularity of brunch in London has soared over the last few years but there is only a handful of places that stray from the omelette/bacon/pancake norm.

Momo - Restaurant Review

On previous trips to Morocco I’ve eaten so much at breakfast that I’ve managed to continue the whole day, camel-like, without any other meals.  It’s good to be able to continue this tradition in London, especially considering the dearth of decent Moroccan restaurants here.

Momo - Restaurant Review

We ordered tea to start – Moroccan mint for me.  The metre- high, admirable yet worrying, yellow stream brought back memories of Marrakech and the numerous carpet salesmen, antique vendors and herbalists who had poured out the perfumed nectar, laced with tooth-rotting sweetness, into patterned tea glasses on gold trays, in the hope of seducing us into buying their goods.  The menu is extensive, with innumerable pastries, sweets and traditional Moroccan tagines.  The absence from the menu of traditionally cooked eggs was refreshing (of particular interest to me after I wasted £13.80 on a limp and bland two-egg omelette at Christopher’s in Covent Garden – I shan’t be darkening their doorstep again).

Momo - Restaurant Review

I ordered the Full Moroccan Breakfast (sans poached egg) which consisted of batata hara, merguez, turkey bacon, coco beans in charmoula sauce, garlic-cooked mushroom-filled roast tomato. The potatoes were soft, and had soaked up the piquant sauce, while the merguez were salty, spicy and juicy, the turkey bacon crisp, the mushrooms delightfully garlicky, and the beans flavourful and comforting.  I’d order Moroccan breakfast over British, any day.  Over all, the dish worked well, but it could have done with a touch more salt to draw more flavour out of the starches.

Momo - Restaurant Review Momo - Restaurant Review

My dining companions were content with their orders, too: scrambled eggs on toast with cured beef, cumin and fine herbs,

Momo - Restaurant Review

and tchaktchouka: merguez, spiced peppers, tomatoes with a fried free range egg, the latter bubbling furiously for five minutes or so after arriving.

Momo - Restaurant Review

After all this, we rolled off our chairs to examine more closely the array of decadent offerings.

Momo - Restaurant ReviewMomo - Restaurant Review

Much to my disappointment there were no baklava (or “balaclava” – rather embarrassingly, the malapropism slipped from my mouth).  We plumped for the praline mousseline horn, admittedly more for its inelegance of name than for its advertised flavours.

Momo - Restaurant Review


This tactic, however, worked in our favour: the pastry was crisp, flaky and filled with a light, and not-overly sweet, praline cream.

Momo - Restaurant Review

The maghrebine pastries were also exotic in appearance, looking somewhat as though they were made of play dough, as my dining companion observed.

Momo - Restaurant Review

This is how we ranked them: in first place, the shiny brown- coffee- bean- on-steroids shaped delicacy; in second place, the almond paste ball nestled in a yellow flower-shaped pastry cup, and stabbed with a nut; in third, the lurid frilly sea-monster (whose green resembled rather disconcertingly that of the giant green chair outside the restaurant).

Momo - Restaurant Review Momo - Restaurant Review

A few mint teas later we tore ourselves away from the Moroccan den.  All in all, the experience had all the necessary qualities of a good brunch: interesting, good quality and decently-priced food, an ambience of decadence and luxury, and good service.   Or maybe I was just seduced by the endless streams of sweet mint tea…

Suitable for: Smart dates, friends, family, vegetarians, brunch, lunch, dinner, cocktails, business lunches, afternoon tea, something different

Food: 8/10

Ambience: 9/10

Service: 9/10

Loos: 6/10 - I walked into the men's.  For future reference this sign = women's:

Momo - Restaurant Review

Momo on Urbanspoon


Smoking Goat - Review


Smoking Goat - Review


  Smoking Goat - Restaurant Review

The growing trend of no-booking restaurants in London makes me panic.  The threat of having to wait 15 minutes – or heaven forbid, longer - in the cold for a table is not something in which anyone delights, especially when the London restaurant scene is burgeoning and there are a hundred other places to try.   When my dining companion and I plotted to target Smoking Goat in Soho on Friday we had to come up with a strategy: if we didn’t get a table at x, we would try y, and if not y, then z, and if we couldn’t get z, then we’d have to fall back on our booked failing-all-else standby.  Crazy, yes, but these means are absolutely required to deal with the current restaurant scene, especially if you are as anxious about the location of your next meal as I am.

Fortunately, Smoking Goat had a table - a wooden barrel surrounded by stools.  My dining companion arrived early, before I did.  Having surveyed the situation, he deemed the standard tables squeezed around the edge of the cramped room too tiny.  The tables are so tightly packed together that it’s hazardous to one’s meal, as exemplified when a couple rose to leave.  There were a few clangs (audible even above the tinnitus-provoking music) and the entire meal of the adjacent table was knocked to the floor.  The couple edged their way out of the restaurant whilst murmuring apologies continuously.  I vicariously experienced their relief upon escaping the restaurant.

Smoking Goat - Restaurant Review

Smoking Goat - Restaurant Review

Indeed, the whole thing felt like a farce: the service is haphazard with no recognisable system - our menus, for example, were handed to us only to be whisked away a few minutes later when we were mistaken for having already ordered.  I had read during my research that the author of a well-respected restaurant review website had come up with the cocktail list.  The restaurant itself apparently hadn’t been informed of this: our very friendly waitress said that the Old Fashioned was the only cocktail they were doing that evening.   This piece of information was rather at odds with the spirit-stocked bar area which dominates the room (possibly due to the severe overcrowding, rather than the bar’s actual size).  We decided to push the restaurant to its very limits and order a Whisky Sour.  Were the spirit bottles just a tease?  Apparently so.  We waited 10 minutes and, with no sign, my dining companion asked the waiter who had taken his order for an update on the status of his drink.  “We are currently looking for an egg” was the reply.  We nodded in understanding of this conundrum.   At this point, another waiter forced his way through the crowd to our table and, standing between me and my dining companion, raised his elbows up in a stretching motion to assert his presence, and paused for a moment as if about to say something.  I stopped talking to allow him to speak, but he looked away dreamily, and scuttled off.   He had a benevolent, dazed air, and seemed only just ‘with it’ enough to interpret orders and deliver food.  This was possibly the only state one could be in to work in such a restaurant which, despite my fears over its no-bookings policy, didn’t seem to turn anyone away.  Rather, they adhered rigidly to the same rulebook as the Tokyo railway station passenger arrangement staff i.e. pushers.  Jostled and squeezed past, sorry-d and excuse me-d throughout the meal, I was reminded of this constantly.

Smoking Goat - Restaurant Review

After regaining our stolen menus, we ordered the dish for which the restaurant has become famed: fish wings.  They arrived piled up on a plate encased in a sticky, glinting crust speckled with sesame seeds – the kind you would expect to find as a coating on Chinese banana fritters.  The crust looked golden but the restaurant is so dimly lit that the candles’ glow lent everything the Midas touch.  With cutlery eschewed, we raised the blazing hot crisp sticky wings to our mouths.  Their fame is well-deserved – crunchy, sticky, salty and addictively sweet, with meat sliding form the bone before even touching the lips.   Clearly, the success of the restaurant hinges entirely on the competence of the chef.

Smoking Goat - Restaurant Review

Before our second round of dishes arrived the first waitress came over to inform us that they now had two cocktails: some punch-like thing, and something with pineapple.  This cocktail list was intriguing in its ability to expand and contract at will.  Still intent on that Whisky Sour, my dining companion asked for an egg status update.  Our waitress diligently dived through the throng back off-stage, and another emerged with our main.  Apart from the fact that it wasn’t.  We and the couple seated at the other side of our wooden barrel shouted a few things at each other - enough to glean that the dish that had landed on our side was in fact theirs.  Our own arrived subsequently.  From the meat-orientated and solely savoury menu (i.e. no dessert), we had plumped for the slow roasted duck legs marinated with galangal, lemongrass and kaffir, basted with ketjap manis and white pepper.   Somehow, the chaos spewed forth this plate of tangy, sweet, zesty succulence.  A drizzle of the light vinegary jaew sauce improved it further.

Smoking Goat - Restaurant Review

Mesmerised by the tenderness of the duck legs, I had failed to notice the little plate with two clear plastic bags of rice.  I squeezed the rather solid bolus of glutinous rice on to my plate, and there it remained, untouched and rather redundant amidst the delights of the other dishes.

Smoking Goat - Restaurant Review

The Som Tam which accompanied the duck was another hit: strips of green papaya with peanuts and chilli – refreshing, slightly sweet and punchy, this was a much more understandable accompaniment to the duck.

Smoking Goat - Restaurant Review

The menu is limited to six dishes, further limited to two if you are vegetarian. However, I’m not complaining as its condensed nature seemed to allow for a greater focus on flavour.  It also meant from a simply mathematical point of view that amidst all the chaos there is, in theory, a higher chance of the waiters getting the dish to the right customer – the odds were not in our favour on Friday.  The vegetarian dish I tried was the roast aubergine salad.  It was so smoky I could almost taste the coals.  Once again the chef displayed his virtuosity by balancing this with fresh coriander and a soft boiled egg, just molten and creamy enough to play against the coriander and add a different form of savoury to the dish.  It was simple but very effective.

Smoking Goat - Restaurant Review

The very friendly waitress chose this moment to inform us of her own accord as to the Whisky Sour status.  She raised her hands in a ‘what can I do’ manner, and said she was sorry but that they had run out of eggs.  Would my friend like an Old-Fashioned instead?  I couldn’t be bothered to go to the effort of telling her that she needs to work on the creativity of her lies: there were definitely eggs about, given that two out of the four dishes had contained egg, the latter in its most explicit form.   The barman was clearly either inept or lazy.

With the bill paid, we battled our way through the hoards to escape the slapstick farce that is Smoking Goat.  What did you think? my dining companion asked me, slightly hoarse from shouting the entire evening. Delicious chaos, we agreed.  I turned and saw one of the waitresses smoking a solitary cigarette, evidently her way of dealing with the bedlam inside.  She even chimed in and agreed with our description.  The issue, she claimed, was that people were coming in groups of five and six - the illogic of Smoking Goat summarised perfectly.



Ambience: 5/10

Service: 5/10

Loos: 3/10

Price: ££££

Suitable for: drinks, friends, late night food, bar food, carnivores, casual dining



Smoking Goat on Urbanspoon

Square Meal


Opium Bar & Bob Bob Ricard


Opium Bar & Bob Bob Ricard


Scroll down to watch the drama play out... “We’re going to a secret place,” I was told.  My friend found me amongst the throngs of Gerrard Street and whizzed me off to Opium.


The only ‘feature’ identifying the bar is a doorman – but don’t be intimidated as he’s lovely, and no way near as surly as the one at Purl in Marylebone.  Once through the shabby black door we clambered up the narrow wooden staircase, with bars located on both the second and third floors.  We stopped fleetingly to meet the manager: my friend is one of the most charming people I know, and has now found a second home in Opium - so much so that he has been known to spend eight hours straight there.  And the vibe at Opium is indeed warm, with its wooden walls and seating, and the abundance of red jars and décor.  The energy of the crowd pleased to have located this exclusive hard-to-find spot is also invigorating, and there’s no two hour turn around, nor waiters nudging bills at you while you’re finishing your first drink.

IMG_5405 - Copy

We sat on stools around a wooden bartender’s table lined with apothecary-style bottles filled with innumerable spirits.


The bar staff are fun, unpretentious, and supremely talented.  When I requested a cocktail, my only stipulation was that it should be savoury and, after some theatrics, this beauty was served to me.


Exactly what I wanted.  I’m not entirely sure what it was, but imagine it was along the lines of the Boulevardier of Sour Dreams: nikka from the barrel, fresh orange juice, antica formula, campari, fresh lemon juice, sugar syrup, egg white, orange zest garnish.  Utterly sublime.



Price - ££££

Drinks - 10/10

Ambience – 8/10

Service – 9/10

Suitable for: dates, friends, celebrations, late night drinks, bar food

Opium on Urbanspoon

Square Meal After several cocktails, we stumbled off to Bob Bob Ricard, a Gatsby-esque restaurant dominating the corner of St James’ Street.  The doorman & maître d', decked out in pale pink, were charming.  Opulence is the theme here but with none of the attached snootiness.  I tied in well with the décor, wearing an all-over leopard print dress – my singing teacher, who possesses leopard print everything, would have been proud.


We were guided through the maze of businessmen and couples to our own deliciously intimate booth.  Its gold-lined marble table glittered beneath mirrored gold ceiling tiles, and was encircled by plush velvet curtains to shield us from other diners on three sides.  For the four of us not known to hold back on raucous laughter, this was perfect.


This restaurant is also ahead of the game in terms of marketing: the BBR “press for champagne button” toys with one’s willpower.  Who has ever resisted a button?  Even the fire alarm button became too much for one girl at my school.  She was expelled a week later.  Maybe it was worth it.  My willpower lasted ten minutes (I had to test that it worked, of course).


The waiter arrived seconds later, and we went for a bottle of Ayal Rose Majeur, NV: sweet, pink and crisp.  At a later point in the evening, the waiter missed the flute while pouring. ‘Spillage is lickage’ is definitely not appropriate for BBR, but nor is losing some of your £75 investment… Our waiter had also misled us in saying that the Brut was the same price as the Rosé.  It is not.




We plunged straight into main courses with the 2010 Rioja to keep it company.  As we were being served, a couple was shown to the only table in our sight-line, that is, directly opposite.   Perhaps they were confused by the level of intimacy provided by the booths, but for the rest of the evening we had the questionable luxury of VIP seats for their love fest, rudely interrupted on occasion by the waiter.  After toying with the idea of the lemon sole goujons, I chose the filet mignon rossini: 28 day aged scotch beef with seared foie gras, confit apple, served with truffle gravy.  Gorgeous presentation:



But flavour wise, the dish was mixed.

The positives: tender, nicely cooked pink fillet steak.  It was juicy, very fine quality & had zero fat – a winner in my book. The accompanying truffle sauce was flavourful, and complemented the sweetness of the steak very well, too.


I was caught stealing some of my friend’s chips…


Well-portioned, and served in an elegant pink-lined box, these were delightful – thin, crunchy, and potentially rivalling those of Le Caprice.

The negatives:  the foie gras.  I’m not a PETA supporter etc. , and am happy to try foie gras in full knowledge of the gruesome production process.  The flavour itself is full of umami – deeply savoury.  So savoury, however, that the flavour dominates, and then lingers.  Not even a gulp of the Rioja could clear my palate after the minute piece of foie gras.  The globes of confit apple were intelligently added to cleanse and refresh the palate.  They were tangy and gave a crisp crunch to the softer textures on the plate.  However, they tasted as if they had been prepared a (long) while in advance – like a cloth that has remained damp overnight.  The side portion of sautéed spinach was also on the mean side for an inexpensive ingredient so quick to prepare.


My companions, meanwhile, enjoyed their crispy suckling pork belly (one called it the best he’d ever had), and lobster macaroni and cheese.  I tried the latter, and it was indeed delicious.


Dessert was dramatic: having spent at least an hour menu-stalking that morning I knew I was going to have the BBR signature chocolate glory dish - chocolate jivara mousse, chocolate brownie, meringue, and passion fruit jelly.







The melting chocolate sphere has become a mainstay for several restaurants, with the drama adding a flourish to the end of a meal.  I recently visited Petrus, Gordon Ramsay’s 2012 Michelin Star restaurant.  Sadly, that meal was a compilation of negatives, with the only dish worth remembering being their chocolate sphere.  But why bother going to Petrus – atmosphere- less, poor, and excruciatingly slow service, and food that is below weak (an M&S ready meal is far superior and a fraction of the cost)?  Do, on the other hand, bother with the BBR signature dessert: a shimmering gold globe, lashings of smoothly intense chocolate sauce, and the refreshing tang of passion fruit (plus a great photo opportunity).


All in all, a wonderfully opulent experience - not perfection, but now that the taste of foie gras has faded, I shall be back to try the lemon sole goujons.

Bob Bob Ricard

Price - ££££

Ambience – 10/10

Food – 7/10

Service – 7/10

Loos – 10/10

Suitable  for: Dates, celebrations


Quaglino's on Urbanspoon

Square Meal