Regent Street, in the heart of the West End, is one of London’s busiest areas. Office workers side step selfie-taking tourists, who can so easily miss the hidden side street, where you’ll find Momo.
Taking up a corner of Heddon Street, Momo stands out from other restaurants with its unique decor and outdoor lounging area.
Immediately my senses were jumping. Starting with a feast for the eyes as we were transported into a dark, romantic yet vibrant dining room with traditional North African furnishings. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted the chefs at work in the open kitchen; a touch of theatre always fascinating to watch.
Next, we were embraced with a mouth-watering aroma of mixed spices and the sound of relaxing music, as we were guided to our seats.
We were recommended a bottle of the Momo, a Spanish Tempranillo, which would accompany our meaty main courses perfectly.
Whether a meat, fish or vegetarian lover, the versatile menu offers a good selection of dishes. We asked our waiter for the best way to tackle the menu. Depending on how hungry we were, he suggested 3 – 4 starters to share (obviously opting for 4) and then a main course each.
It would be a crime to not try a Moroccan favourite; hummus. The flat breads were hot and floury but also crisp enough so the smooth, whipped chickpea dish could be appreciated in its best. As to be expected, the balance of tahini, garlic and lemon juice was spot on.
The first thing we noticed about the barbecued octopus was the smoky charcoal flavour. The sweet beetroot ketchup partnered with the crunchy, fresh pomegranate created an appeasing dish, not only for the taste buds but also for eyes. The octopus was served with sharp pickled salsify, which I have to admit, I needed to do some research on. This is a root vegetable belonging to the dandelion family, similar to a parsnip.
A pastilla is a traditional Moroccan pie, which blends sweet and savoury ingredients within a parcel of pastry. We chose the wood pigeon pastilla, which was spicy and sweet, with almonds and cinnamon. The flavours reminded us of Christmas, which was odd in May, but delightful all the same. This was the starter I was most looking forward to, especially as I don’t typically order pigeon – I wasn’t disappointed at all! In fact, I was most impressed.
Bourek is a crispy stuffed pastry, in this case with seafood. Sometimes I find when eating pastry, you can lose the flavour of the filling to an overly greasy shell. This was not the case! The pastry was a light, containing cod, gambas, scallops and crab meat. We were able to pick out the subtle flavours of each component and so far, won top dish of the evening.
Ourwaiter was knowledgeable about every dish on the menu, so when he said the special was one of his favourites, I couldn’t say no. A beef cheek, cooked for almost 24 hours in the traditional tagine clay pot, served with chickpeas, sweet potato and spring onions in a stew full of mixed spices that burst with flavour. The beef was flavourful and tender, falling apart beautifully as I cut into it. This dish was cooked precisely as it was explained and exceeded expectations.
I chose the Batata Harra as a side dish to accompany the beef cheeks. Batata Harra is small cubes of potato fried with chilli; a perfect addition to soak up the juices of the tagine. The potatoes were crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle, carrying the exact amount of heat from the green chilli.
Looking through the menu, I would have put my money on my guest ordering the Momo cous cous. A trio of any meat is always better than just one, right? Dominating the plate was the melting lamb shank, a beautiful rich braised colour that fell off the bone. Sitting next to the shank was the merguez; a red, spicy sausage. This earthy and powerfully spiced sausage packed a punch. Being a very different texture and flavour to the shank it complemented the dish well. Last but not least was the grilled lamb skewer, which brought a different element to this dish with its subtle yet impressive flavour. The lamb was pink in the middle and browned on the outside; perfect. A fluffy cous cous was ideal to soak up the delicious juices from the different cuts of lamb.
After our 4 sharing starters and 2 large mains we barely had room for dessert, so decided to share the Momo Chocolate Plate. The desserts combined 3 aspects, each with unique placing. A hot chocolate fondant oozed a silky chocolate lava. The sharp cocoa sorbet complemented the hot chocolate and left my guest and I clashing spoons for more. The concluding treat was the chocolate argan oil delice, which I hear can be a complicated and time-consuming delicacy to produce. We devoured every element of this dessert.
We sat back and savoured the refreshing tea served with dessert, taking in the music and buzzy atmosphere. Finally, we headed outside to the courtyard for a cocktail and chatted away, completely forgetting we were just a stone’s throw away from the busy streets of the West End.
25 Heddon Street, London, W14 4BH