Clerkenwell’s Exmouth Market somehow manages to be perennially cool. Restaurant-goers know it best as the home of Moro: an establishment that has managed to combine good food, fashionable appeal and relatively reasonable prices for a fair number of years: a rare triple-act. Indeed, such has been its success, that one might have expected to see more imitators in the immediate area. In fact, part of the charm of the street is precisely that it has not been ‘colonised’, and it houses everything from trendy furniture shops to a tattooist. The street has admittedly attracted most of the superior sort of coffee shop chains, but, in recent years, the only restaurant newcomer of any real note has been Medcalf: a trendy place for a decent lunch, but more a bar in the evenings.
The new Italian reviewed today is perhaps never going to become a hip ‘destination’, but it’s still a handy addition to the area. A sample lunch, served on a chilly day, was, in fact, very satisfying indeed. Bread – usually a reliable indicator of the quality of what is to follow – was really very good. This initially favourable impression was rather offset by the time I had to wait for my antipasti, but this turned out to be because some of them were, unexpectedly, hot. All was forgiven.
What followed was notable for being consistently satisfying. Gnocchi can be desperately boring, but the potato pasta served here – with minced meat – was good to the end. Tiramisu was also thoroughly enjoyable. Given the consistency of what had gone before, it was a let-down to end with a timid espresso. If you’re looking for a rather ‘lower-key’ experience than Momo, however, this is a place than which you could do very much worse.