What's the draw:
Fine-dining in London was a completely different jungle when Momo first strutted onto the scene in 1997. Intent on providing punters with what were then-exotic mountains of couscous and heaping tagines, the restaurant became a must-visit venue for great food and glamorous hedonism. Having taken a brief two month hiatus to gussy itself up again, the Heddon Street haunt is back in business. Owner Mourad Mazouz has ensured that – despite the requisite nips, tucks and ever-so faint over-polishedness of a fresh botox injection – the restaurant's refurb hasn't removed any of its character. Fronds out front and a Scheherazadean interior maintain the Marrakech-meets-Mayfair aesthetic while the open kitchen churns out countless dishes of lavish North African cuisine.
What to drink:
A location that used to be frequented by Kate Moss and Madonna definitely calls for cocktails. Not wanting to do Momo an injustice we dipped into the 'Momo Special' (a refreshing mix of Ketel One vodka, fresh mint, lime juice, simple syrup, soda) and a Green Park (Tanqueray gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup, celery bitters and egg white) as an alcoholic amuse-bouche. We followed that up with a glacial glass of 2017 Les Trois Domaines Blanc – a dry Moroccan white from the Guerrouane region that was kissed with a tentative first snog of honeydew melon. Although it wasn't open at the time of our visit, the downstairs bar is set to be taken over by expert bartender Erik Lorincz. So, feel free to saunter down the stairs and make madge proud.
What to eat:
Pan-fried chicken livers with sesame seeds are wheeled out atop a paddling pool of pomegranate molasses and smooth-as-silk mulukhiyah, cooked spinach-like leaves popular around the Levant. The livers are timed beautifully pink, studded with ruby pomegranates that balance against the offal's rich earthiness. The classic Momo couscous boasts a lamb cutlet, chicken kofta and merguez sausages for carnal company, with each element arriving separately at table side. Pert merguez, the hue of burnt Brits abroad, snap at every bite and burst with paprika-spiced fat, while monkfish tagine could easily pass for a paella in a dark room, bobbing with muscular pieces of fish and chubby cockles in an oceanic sea of nutty freekeh and spring cabbage. Dessert isn't to be missed, either: spongy baba cake is doused in fig boukha liquer, fresh fruit and chantilly cream in what Momo has dubbed the 'Baba Boukha', a sweet that's not as angry as a drunken rum baba, but just as tasty. Momo's strengths lies in nailing the classics, though a chocolate namelaka gives the old dog a new trick at the end of the evening via the addition of a fiery quenelle of Heston-esque harissa sorbet.
Mains from £17; wine by the glass from £6.5o. 23-25 Heddon Street, Mayfair, W1B 4BH; momo.london