Okay, so there are probably two confessions necessary before you can take this seriously. The first is that North African cuisine is among our favourites in the world. The second is that Momo was created on the back of Sketch, one of London’s legendary dining and nightlife experiences.
The problem with Momo, the restaurant-cum-club, is that there really isn’t a problem. Sure, it’s noisy inside in London’s eternal atmosphere of instant gratification. But if you can persuade the right people that you’re not a party person and secure a table on the terrace, it’s surprisingly quiet and tranquil.
Inside or out, what the menu will deliver is a series of gradated surprises. Maybe you had some idea of what North African cooking – and Moroccan cooking, most specifically – was all about. But you had no idea that it could manifest in these forms. From an alarmingly smooth hummus with char-grilled chicken livers to barbecued octopus or slivers of grilled duck served with a silken, wafer-like rendition of dates with sesame seeds or simple, grilled slices of butternut, asparagus and onion, the starters act only as a striptease to the main courses on offer.
Whether the perfect lamb tagine, the unexpected flavours or young chicken grilled to perfection with herbs and citrus or poultry with signature couscous, the only thing you could possibly accuse the kitchen at Momo of is a lack of pretension. This is the table of Dido, Queen of Carthage, not archaeologically, but metaphorically, albeit it for a fashionista crowd of whom only few would probably understand the reference. Classical, contemporary, elegant and surprising all at once, yes, you should expect this of North African cuisine. But in an upmarket central London restaurant? No, that is where Momo stands alarmingly alone. Sure, there are other North African restaurants that offer good food in London. But in an environment that is this paparazzi plug-n-play friendly? We think not.
Whatever you may have read, heard or encountered on social media, this is North African cuisine that deserves to be recognised with or without all the celebrity kudos or demimonde chic that often surrounds it. If you slip downstairs to the club area after a sumptuous meal, so much the better. Few can dance well on such a well satiated stomach. Prove that you’re one of them.