They say Thursdays are the new Fridays, so I made my way to a hidden gem just seconds from bustling Regent Street. Do you want to wake up the next day, and think that you were dreaming? If the answer is yes, then Mo Café is for you, a Moroccan oasis tucked away on Heddon Street.
Once you step in, your travels to North Africa begin… This paradise engages with multiple senses – rich colours, lanterns, and abstract geometric tiles are joined by aromatic dishes and traditional north African songs.
We started with some refreshing cocktails. We ordered the Momo Special, which entails Ketel One Vodka, mint, lemon, sugar and soda water, a twist on the classic Mojito. And with a name like this we just had to order the Lavender Fantasy, containing Tanqueray, Grand Marnier, pineapple, homemade lavender caramel, lime and lemongrass, served with a piece of ignited lavender and oozing with aroma.
With a variety of cold and hot mezze on offer, we started with Zaalouk, a cold dish consisting of soft roasted aubergine in a tomato, cumin and coriander sauce, served in a wonderful unorthodox bowl, along with warm pitta bread to dip into.
We also opted for the Mechouia, a grilled vegetable salad with charred peppers and tomatoes, seasoned with coriander and cumin and drizzled with ouazzania virgin olive oil. Mechouia feels like the epitome of the Mediterranean diet in a single dish.
With the cold mezze over, it was time for another round of drinks. As a passion fruit aficionado the Kiss with Passion immediately struck my eye. It included Vanilla vodka, lychee, lemongrass, passion fruit and prosecco. The waitress highly recommended from the virgin cocktail list the Amistad, comprising passion fruit, strawberries and lime.
From the hot mezze, we picked the Chicken pastilla, and I knew from first sight that this dish wouldn’t disappoint. Fine pastry filled with sweet and spiced chicken, almonds and cinnamon, it was so aromatic, so rich in flavour. It was topped with iced sugar and extra cinnamon, along with a citrus puree on the side. This combination left us speechless!
In addition, we went for the Chicken skewers, perfectly marinated with ginger, coriander and garlic with a rich flavour of grilled charcoal. The refreshing dip was a creamy yoghurt with cucumber, very similar to tzatziki, which I am very familiar with due to my Greek heritage.
We couldn’t leave without trying the traditional North African sausage Merguez. Beef sausages, with an exceptional array of seasonings, chilli pepper gives the characteristic piquancy and red colour to this dish.
We accompanied the hot mezze with bread, sprinkled with sesame and poppy seeds, and with a spongy centre.
After filling our faces, it was time for our desserts and I was looking forward to the Rose Mahalabiya. The presentation was impeccable and the rose water was brimming with flavour as soon as it arrived to our table. This milk pudding topped with caramelised pistachios and drenched in syrup, makes the dessert a clear stand out on the menu. For the other dessert, this is the moment when halva candy is combined with chocolate to form the Halva Chocolate Brownie. It is so difficult to leave having only eaten one piece.
As North African tradition dictates, finishing a big meal calls for some mint tea, prepared with spearmint leaves and sugar. Beautifully fragrant, it was a relaxing way to end our experience. Dining at Mo Café has further excited me for my trip to Marrakesh next summer, but it’s great to know that I can get authentic cooking so close to home.
25-27 Heddon Street, London, W1B 4BH