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  • Restaurants
  • Clerkenwell
  • price 3 of 4
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Morchella
  2. Morcella
  3. Morchella

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

The second fancy foodie hotspot from the team behind the much-loved Perilla

Some restaurants are born lucky. Before the doors of Morchella even opened, it already had north London’s nibbling classes on side, thanks to links with Newington Green’s chi-chi neighbourhood eatery, Perilla. If you like Perilla (and many people do), it’s pretty much a given that you’ll be tripping over youself to visit Morchella, which marks the second outing for Perilla’s chef-owner Ben Marks and restaurateur Matthew Emmerson, who’ve teamed up with chef Daniel Fletcher for this astute, three-pronged attack on Clerkenwell’s dining scene. 

Morchella is the proper name of the morel mushroom – the one with honeycomb-style fungal flesh so densely packed that if you stare at it long enough the logo for a Norwegian black metal band magically appears – and the space itself is broadly similar to Perilla. Both occupy prime corner real estate in desirable locales, but Morchella ramps up the aesthetic to XXL proportions.

A divine blood orange portokalopita came with salty slithers of black olive tucked away inside the syrup spattered cake.

Go big or go home seems to have been the designer’s brief. Situated in a former Victorian bank, there are sky-high ceilings, marble columns and large canvases of unobtrusive art, while huge street-facing windows put Morchella out of the running for both illicit affairs and preliminary job interviews with MI6. There’s a muted, olive-green, coat-style chore uniform for the staff (you can take the restaurant out of N16, but you can’t take the N16 out of the restaurant…), and lots of clean, soft wood too, with each table coming with a built-in, Jenga-like drawer where you’ll find the day’s menu and all your cutlery. It’s fun, but ergonomic! 

Food here is pitched as modern interpretations of classic Mediterranean dishes, and the menu is one of those with no more than three words to describe each dish. Unsurprisingly, this does the generosity of Morchella’s masterly cooking a disservice, but at the same time makes for some neat surprises when our food arrives. A simple ‘pork jowl’ fails to mention this crisp yet gooey flesh toastie comes layered with a veritable sash window of sweet pink quince and thick onion jam, while sublime ‘salt cod churros’ are found on top of a hitherto unmentioned slick of chunky, funky romesco sauce, and ‘egg, spinach and chickpeas’ were dolloped with cream and asteroid-sized sourdough croutons. Even an impressionistic ‘scallop, cauliflower mushroom’ was a lighter, brighter bite than expected. 

Not everything was an instant hit. A sharing main of Sicilian fish stew certainly looked the part, with blood orange hunks to squeeze over an aquarium’s worth of seafood, but there was a dissonance at play; nothing quite gelled and a touch more wallop was needed when it came to flavour. Wallop though is what we got with dessert, a divine blood orange portokalopita with salty slivers of black olive tucked away inside the syrup spattered cake.

Clerkenwell isn’t an area that’s ever been wanting for impressive restaurants, but in Morchella they’ve found one that comfortably fits into the fold. 

The vibe A gloriously roomy and immediately impressive space in Clerkenwell. London foodies will gather here in their masses. 

The food Elegant Mediterranean-ish dishes with a rustic touch. 

The drink There’s an adjoining wine bar, and an epic Old World wine list.  

Time Out tip Order the pillowy pepperdulse focaccia as you puruse the menu.

Leonie Cooper
Written by
Leonie Cooper


84-86 Rosebery Ave
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