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Morgan M - A French Restaurant That is Great For Vegetarians

Morgan M
489 Liverpool Street
London N7 8NS
020 7609 3560

Let me say straight off: I recommend Morgan M for a special meal out, especially for foodies and more especially for vegetarians. As a veggie myself (no meat or fish), it was a rare treat to be offered a six course ‘from the garden’ vegetarian menu at a bone fide classy restaurant. Created by patron chef Morgan Meunier who has a Michelin star from a previous stint at Monsieur Max in Twickenham, his menu is startling given that he is French and the menu is ostensibly French cuisine. Vegetarians, like me who have spent time in France, will know that you are more likely to stumble across a flying saucer there than a proper vegetarian menu.

The restaurant, a 5 minute walk from Highbury and Islington tube in North London, serves a three course fish or meat menu (£39) but the six course taster menus (the ‘spring’ meat/fish menu (£48) and the ‘Garden’ veggie version (£43)) are the business. Both menus start with a Chilled Cream of Broad Bean with Horseradish Foam which both myself and my guest (who had the ‘spring’menu) thought was sublime. Like a subtle broad bean puree/soup, the white horseradish, distinctive but not overwhelming, gave that little kick and blended perfectly with the broad bean. We opted for the wine by the glass accompanying each course (£29.50) and the Le Lesc Colombard Ugni Blanc 2008, Nin du Gers from South West France, not only complemented the dish but was admirably light yet with a lingering aftertaste. Meanwhile we were offered a choice of fresh soda, multigrain and French baguette breads.

Second course for my guest was a choice of tuna or foie gras and she went for the Ballotine of Foie Gras , Petite Salade and Toasted Brioche. She commented that the foie gras was rich tasting and was intrigued by the apricot chutney with curry sorbet and the orange sauce also on her plate. Perhaps one taste too many. I had a Ragout of Tarbais Beans, Tomatoes and Basil, Turned Courgette, Saffron sauce ‘Embeurre’. Tarbais are a kind of haricot bean and this dish was uneventful. The wine was a Verdicchio de Matelica, 2008, Colle stefana, an Italian wine.

Third course was the best for both of us. My guest had a Seared Fillet of John Dory, Braised Cuttlefish, with vegetables and sauce. She loved this and she knows her fish, and was also impressed by the chablis, 2007, Gerard Temblay, a Burgundy Chardonnay with a fresh citrus taste. I had a Steamed Gnocchi, Asparagus Cream, with Summer Truffle, Girolles Cappucino. This was divine. I’m not normally prone to gnocchi but this, clichés aside, melted in the mouth and the asparagus cream and truffle were spot on. Ironically it is an Italian dish, and the gentleman on the adjacent table to us, an Italian, confirmed it was top drawer.

Fourth course, the main course as such, was for me a Roasted Red Pepper stuffed with Pinenuts and Ricotta with a Jerusalem Artichoke Soubise. The pepper was cooked soft and maybe because I am not a fan of ricotta, I felt this course was less successful than the others. My guest picked a Farmed Chalian Duck dish in the artichoke soubise rather than the Ragout of French Rabbit she could have alternatively chosen. She had no complaints but felt it was less sophisticated perhaps than the other dishes. The wine was red, an Ocho Gran Reserva 1998, an excellent soft Spanish Navarra wine.

On to the puddings. First a pre-desert light vanilla rice pudding with an orange tuille. Small but delicious. Elegant, cool (as in temperature), with just that snippet of sharpness, this would have been a satisfactory conclusion to the evening. But a choice of a dark chocolate Moelleux with a Milk Sorbet or a Raspberry Souffle with Lemon Ice Cream and a Red Fruit Coulis awaited us, so we tried one each and shared away. The chocolate, a house speciality, was a tour de force with the first spoonful releasing the flowing stream of chocolate inside. The raspbery souffle did less for me, being a touch hot inside, but the lady with the Italian diner nearby said it was the best souffle she had ever had in her life! That couple were on a special night out and like us felt they were given just the right level of attention by the French waiting staff. Morgan Meunier, himself, as is his wont, came to chat to most diners. He explained that he wanted his restaurant to be a carefully planned experience for his customers: everything from the toilets (which were smart and clean) to the décor (burgundy walls and plush green chairs) to the paintings on the walls (some by Morgan himself). I was impressed by the crockery and cutlery, particularly the plates and bowls which were individually shaped and designed for each course and were almost themselves works of arts.

If you can afford it, and if one or both of you are vegetarian, I would visit Morgan M soon. From June 16th to July 26th, the restaurant is offering two people a six course menu each with a bottle of wine (the Le Lesc colombard) for £100 all in (plus an optional 12.5% service charge). Diners must quote ‘summer festival’ when booking. Go for it. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Rustom Irani June 2009


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