Moro recently celebrated its tenth year of operation, and is a massive commercial success. The menu brings the influences of Spain and North Africa but presents dishes in a non-threatening way, rather as Nobu did for Japanese cuisine. The place is extremely popular with a fairly young crowd, and we struggled to get a table at ten o'clock. The atmosphere is relaxed, possibly more some might expect as we were seated next to a South African couple who sat entwined on the banquette doing Nine and Half Weeks kind of things with the food. Service was friendly if a bit confused.
Bread was poor, too airy, floury and lacking salt, but it was served with nice scented olive oil. A starter of deep-fried anchovies was coated in sumac (a relative of poison ivy which is ground up as a spice) which has a slight citrus taste. The dish was unattractively presented, the brown coloured fried anchovies just piled up on the plate - how hard would it have been to add a salad or garnish? However they were cooked well and the sumac did add a hint of freshness (12/20). My starter of "peas with jambon and mint" was nothing if not minimalist, it was a bowl of peas with a few pieces of ham and mint. Simple is fine, but there is only so much I can say about a bowl of peas, which were at least seasonal (11/20).
"Fish fattee" resembled a bowl of nachos, but had pieces of sea bream mixed in with yogurt, assorted vegetables and broken-up shards of flatbread sprinkled with pine nuts and sorrel. This actually worked quite well as a dish, the contrasting textures and flavours collectively coming together as a n interesting dish. An odd lapse was that they served the broad beans without having podded them, which was inconvenient for the diner to say the least (13/20). My Middle White pork was served as four slices, nicely cooked and served with new potatoes, fresh coriander and a "mojo verde", a sort of salsa from the Canary Islands that was absurdly spicy. I love Indian and Thai food, but this was jarringly spicy to the extent that it crushed every other flavour (12/20 only).
Malaga raisin ice cream with Pedro Ximines is a nice idea but the raisins were chewy and the ice cream had poor texture (10/20). The all-Spanish wine list had a wide range of prices and areas, with Rioja Alta the pick of the list in terms of quality and value. They even had Vega Sicilia Unico listed. Overall Moro has a relaxed atmosphere and aims for simple cooking, which is fine. My problem were the kitchen lapses: the unpodded beans, the wildly spicy sauce with my otherwise good pork, the poor ice cream. Still, the couple seated next to us on the banquette didn't seem troubled.