Afternoon tea at Momo

Until yesterday all I’d ever had at Momo, the opulent Moroccan restaurant just off Regent Street, was too many mojitos. We used to pack into its cellar bar for the live music and lounge around on the big velvet cushions, while upstairs a heavily blow-dried crowd dined til late among the fretted stonework and candles. Momo was where you went to have a good time, to indulge, to let loose a bit. So when I heard they were offering afternoon tea, that most civilized of activities, I was disappointed. Was the party over?

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Not at all I discovered, this is afternoon tea Momo style, from its founder Mourad Mazouz, the Parisian-Algerian who devised Sketch and Prada Foundation’s Double Club, and also Mo’Zik records. Tea is served on the terrace or in a cute souk-chic room next to the main restaurant arena, free from any British tearoom tensions. Large golden trays replace tabletops, carved wooden benches are piled with embroidered cushions and all the lanterns and accessories are for sale. Although small, clever placing of plants and floor lights creates little oases for gossiping while you eat the trouser-bursting amounts of food.

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There are four tiers to the set tea, two savory and two sweet. The first savory was an unremarkable smoked salmon crispbread but a killer chicken wrap filled with a classic Moroccan chermoula – saffron, coriander, ginger, coriander. Lemony, creamy, delicate, so good we ate in silence. Then cheese briouats – fluffy and moreish deep-fried puff pastry – and two open toasts, one smoked aubergine the other roast peppers. When I die, bring me these warm flavours of cumin, parsley and turmeric.

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And now to the top layers of sweet. There were various date, almond and sesame pastries, a brownie and a lemon square, none of which hit the spot that a fresh piece of baklava can, but the pistachio macaroon made up for it, a perfectly crunchy outside that collapsed into a centre that managed to be both gooey and fluffy. It was nothing short of gorgeous. So full, we had to force down the basket of scones with strawberry and fig jam, oh and clotted cream.

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Teas are divided into greens, blacks and caffeine frees, flavoured with cardamom, orange blossom, fruits even rose petals and served in very English teacups. The curiously spelt comcubine was beautifully light and fragrant, and the classic mint was cleansing between savory and sweet courses. Mazouz has given afternoon tea a gorgeous, fun and divine make-over, something not 100 cucumber sandwiches could beat.

by Vicky Paterson

Momo, 25 Heddon Street, London W1B 4BH

Tel: 207 434 4040


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Glass Online dining writer

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