Afternoon Tea at Momo in Piccadilly
The cooling shade of the foliage-lined garden terrace at Momo provides a welcome respite from the grind of London life. Nestled within Regent Street’s vibrant Food Quarter, all pressures are soon forgotten in the tranquil and secluded al fresco seating of one of London’s most popular restaurants. Somewhat of an institution, Momo is recognised as much for its ornate souk-inspired decor as it is for its North African cuisine. Latticed wooden screens, panelled lanterns, arched windows and colourful cushioned seats create an opulent and authentic experience continued by younger sibling Mo Cafe, housed next door.
The cafe’s highlight is a bountiful Moroccan Afternoon Tea, where waiting staff pour streams of hot Mint Tea into tiny, patterned glasses with much fanfare. A four-tiered stand, generously laden with exotic and familiar treats, appeared overwhelming even before the arrival of a woven side basket containing large, freshly baked scones.
Two savoury tiers included a traditional Smoked Salmon Sandwich with Cream Cheese, which looked adorable but the flavourless miniature toasts added little to the lightly smoked fish. Fried Cheese Briouats were excessively greasy, but the crisp shell was a nice contrast to the warm, oozing centre. Zaalouk & Mechouia on Toast were both exquisite; the former, made with aubergine, was mild and creamy with a smoky undertone, while the latter was reminiscent of a pepper and tomato salsa. The Yellow Moroccan Chicken Wrap was outstanding, with a mouth-watering aroma and delightful hints of cumin, coriander, saffron and onion.
Cinnamon-spiced Scones with Clotted Cream, Strawberry & Fig Jam were exceedingly good, as was a dainty Lemon Cream Pain de Gêne − a thin layer of soft sponge topped with tangy lemon curd, white chocolate and an elegant mini meringue. The Pistachio Macaroon was too sweet but Chocolate Brownie with Chocolate Mousse was beautifully moist, packed with nuts and topped with an attractive swirl of smooth, delicious mousse.
A plate of dense, saccharine Maghrebine Pastries had an exciting mix of flavours releasing varying notes of tahini, citrus, orange blossom, coffee, almond and honey. There was little to curb the sugar rush in the sweetened mint tea, or a Mojito-like Momo Special cocktail, but additional menu options were more successful. Served in quaint but somewhat leaky vintage crockery, a cardamom and citrus infused Fakirs Tea helped to cleanse the palette and Five O’clock Tea, a Darjeeling, Assam and Ceylon blend, proved a good alternative to English Breakfast.
The staff had impressive knowledge of the ingredients used for each tier and our waitress was particularly helpful, even asking if we had any food allergies prior to accepting our order.
The experience lacked the refinement of a traditional tearoom but those with an exceptionally sweet tooth are unlikely to find a stronger sugar fix layered with such aromatic flavours. However, for those who prefer a more balanced proposition, Moroccan Afternoon Tea is a lovely indulgence that could prove too sickly to repeat yet it’s undoubtedly worth the risk for its originality, splendour and location.
Photos: Monika Jørgesen
To book a table at Momo, 25 Heddon Street, London, W1B 4BH, call 020 7434 4040 or visit here.