Moro at the Exmouth Market, London

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My choice for a favorite informal birthday lunch or dinner during our early December trips to London has always been Moro at the Exmouth Market, an easy 15-minute walk from West End theatre-going accommodations. (Reservations for both are essential.) Owner-chefs Samantha and Sam Clark are inspired by the southern Mediterranean cuisines of Morocco, Spain, France and even the Sahara. Their wood-burning oven, installed “before the craze,” has been a fixture since their opening in 1997. Starting with a smoky, crunchy yet chewy bread, perfect for sopping up tangy olive oil bathing dreamy olives placed on the table upon arrival, diners will experience charming service and unusual tastes in every course and side dish.

Tapas and mezze selections abound for both bar and table service. Wood-roasted trout, pork shoulder and chicken, each rubbed carefully with distinctive Mediterranean spices/herbs — whatever your entrée choice –- are complemented by a delectable array of side dishes: fregola, potato and chard mélanges, roasted beets or morels (depending upon the season), many delicately dressed in olive oils from a specific region. And theses are only a short list of offerings. A comprehensive wine list, mostly Spanish and Portuguese, gives diners more than enough choices, by the glass or bottle, for a perfect accompaniment. And, all servers seem to know the best pairings.

If you can’t get there, try the Moro cookbooks for an unusual sampling of inspired Mediterranean cooking. Once you’ve had fun in the kitchen, you’ll want to travel to London to sample the real deal.

Linda Viertel


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