Momo Restaurant, London – afternoon tea (£/££)
25 Heddon Street, London W1B 4BH
Summary: Afternoon tea at Momo Restaurant is one of the more flavoursome and interesting teas I’ve been to in London. The souk-style setting is unexpectedly cosy and atmospheric, the service attentive and friendly, and the food good overall. More rustic than polished, with a couple of tweaks this could be a great treat. As it is, it’s good value, and you will definitely leave full! Verdict: 8.5/10.
Value for money: 9/10
Groupon offer – £15. Normal price £25. No refills on the food, bottomless tea (and they refilled my iced coffee)
Momo Restaurant is situated on a quiet street tucked behind Regent Street, London. Once the lone star on an otherwise desolated Heddon Street, it is now joined by other bars and restaurants, but still stands out due to its riotously floral patio outside. Safe to say, there’ll be no mistaking when you’re there…
Momo Restaurant is a Moroccan restaurant, bar, club, and cafe, so it’s no surprise that their afternoon tea has a Maghrebi theme. A warm spring-summer day was the perfect time to sample the afternoon tea in their café, which is separate from the more formal, elaborate restaurant next door. I had tea there before, about five years ago, but a lot can change in that time. Luckily Groupon offered a great deal on the afternoon tea (£15 instead of the regular £25), so I thought the time was right to give it another go.
I am warmly welcomed both by the staff and the inviting setting: an atmospheric souk-style cafe, furnished with low, cushioned seating decorated in in richly jewelled tones, set against bright brass tables on wooden legs. If I hadn’t quite escaped the shopping scramble of the West End, I have now: I am now officially in a little outpost of Marrakesh. I am quickly seated on a cosy, comfortable bench, and survey the scene.
The afternoon tea is Moroccan-themed, not surprisingly . I am already salivating after reading the menu.
I am writing this review a little while after my visit, and so my memory is being jogged as I write. As I look through the photos again, I am not only salivating afresh (attractive, I know), but I am also reminded of what a wonderful setting the café is. I was the only solo diner (tea-er? Should that be a new word?) there, and I had a great, spacious table to myself with a cosy bench I could properly relax on. Not only that, but the layout of the café creates an openness (so you can get attention when you need it – nobody likes to be forgotten) as well as an air of privacy and cosiness. It’s one of my favourite settings for afternoon tea so far: more casual and laid-back than five-star luxury, but really welcoming, comfortable, and atmospheric.
The staff bring out a three-tiered stand full of goodies – everything is served at once, scones included – and I cannot wait to get stuck in.
Oh, and this is a good time to mention that they make all their afternoon tea elements in-house, including preparing the clotted cream, the jam, the pastries, and so on.
So, the most important part…the food!
What I liked straightaway is the inclusion of hot savouries on the menu. This made the tea heartier from the outset, which I liked; it had whiff of the high tea about it.
I make a start with the miniature traditional Maghrebi treats: pastries with cheese (the briouat), and zaalouk (grilled aubergine and tomato) and mechouia (grilled peppers, tomatoes, and spices) on toast. There are also more standard afternoon tea sandwiches with a Moroccan twist: the spiced chicken wrap, and a salmon rillettes sandwich with cream cheese.
The overall verdict was that these were flavoursome, which was a welcome departure from the bland and boring sandwiches you can get at some afternoon teas. However, there were some elements that could be improved. A couple of the sandwiches could be paired with a different bread, or differently prepared bread. For example, the cute miniature loaf-style bread for the salmon rillettes was (slightly over) grilled, which made it too crunchy and drowned out the flavour of the tasty filling.
I finished the savouries…and was still hungry. And a little worried that I would leave hungry, because I should be filling up at this point.
And then I started on the scones.
The cavalry stormed the table in the form of two big, fat scones, studded with chunks of date. They were delicious, especially when served with the unusual prickly pear jam and clotted cream. They would have been even better if they had been warm. An easy fix would be to serve the scones after the savouries rather than at the same time.
Nevertheless, they were great, and they filled me up.
The pastries are again a mix of Moroccan-influenced sweet treats, and full on traditional Maghrebi delicacies.
All the while, I am sipping away on perfectly refreshing mint tea, poured the proper way…
Personally, I found the Maghrebine pastries a bit too hard and sweet. But I did enjoy the other sweet treats, and also liked that they were quite varied, with different textures and flavours.
I’m not a huge fan of rosewater, but the rosewater cheesecake tastes more of raspberry than rosewater, so more fruity than floral.
The service is excellent, attentive, and friendly. I was treated like a special guest from the moment I arrived, and all my questions about the menu and venue were answered graciously.
The Momo Restaurant afternoon tea is a unique one in London, and has a lot going for it. The flavoursome twists throughout the menu keep it well aligned to its Moroccan theme. The wonderfully cosy, welcoming café setting transports you to Marrakesh just a stone’s throw from Regent Street. The tea is more rustic than polished, and could do with a bit more finesse, like serving the scones warm, changing the plates in between courses. However, for the price it is pretty good value, and if you can find the Groupon deal again, it’s an amazing bargain, especially with the unlimited tea and iced coffee. I would happily go again.