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16 February 2005

Morgan M ****

Not wanting to be bah humbug about it, I can't be bothered with Valentines Day but nonetheless did succumb to some of the commercial claptrap so ended up going out for dinner, but was intent on going local. Possibly the best decision I've made in the last 12 months. When I booked Morgan M I was told there was a set price (£57) for both the Garden and normal set-menus and we were offered the 6.30-9.00pm service or the 9.30-close service. I went for the earlier one.

First off I want to say the food was fantastic and the service was excellent, there were none of the issues I've read here or elsewhere. Both of us went for the garden menu, something I wouldn't normally do but given the excellent reviews its had, I was intrigued.

The first of the five courses was a sublime cream of turnip soup with shaved black truffles. The dish was simple and tasted sublime. There were dices of turnip at the bottom of the dish and atop that was the shaved truffle, the soup was poured around this little group. The soup wasn't too heavy, but had enough weight to it to be able to stand up to the fantastic truffle. The next course of a pumpkin tarte tatin with butternut sorbet was frankly my least favourite. This sounds strange but it was just a bit too orange for me. The butternut sorbet didn't quite work because there wasn't enough oomph and flavour to it. Had you not been told what it was, you wouldn't have known. Next along was a sublime gnocchi with tomatoes and cooking juices, there was also a generous handful of basil. It was a simple dish but fantastic. The gnocchi managed to be both light and soft but dense enough to soak up the sauce created by the tomatoes. The tomatoes were definitely not the common or garden English variety. They had a flavour, sweetness and depth you rarely get outside of the Med. Next up was a canneloni of spinach and ricotta which seemed to be sitting on top of a chestnut puree, all of which was surrounded by a mushroom veloute.

By this stage we were getting pretty stuffed and this was a fairly substantial dish to bring the main part of the meal to the close. Despite its size it was very good and all the flavours worked well. It quickly got mushed together, therefore losing its elegant looks, but frankly tasting that good, who cares? Finally (at last) we each had one of dessert options. My chocolate fondant was fantastic, with the toffee served with it truly sublime - frankly they could make a dessert of just that. The milk sorbet that was served as an accompaniment was true nursery food stuff - it reminded me of those milk lollies you used to be able to get. The other dessert of pineapple souffle was fantastically executed and sitting tall and proud. The texture was just the right side of eggy. However, I'm not the biggest fan of cooked pineapple and the flavour was so intense it reminded me slightly of pineapple concentrate. Coffee and petits fours (all eaten far too quickly) rounded off a great meal.

This restaurant deserves to be full (which it was last night) and if there were any issues with service these have been ironed out. We decided to go for wines by the glass, including a great Chassagne Montrachet I had with one of the various starting courses. Frankly, I can't recommend it highly enough. My one niggling issue is that of the cost. I thought that what we paid was fair value, but the Garden menu was the same price as the normal menu. The normal menu had the same number of dishes and included ingredients such as foie gras, lobster and venison. If cost is directly equated to the cost of ingredients then we were ripped off. If cost is equated to enjoyment, service and most importantly quality of meal then we did fine. Nonetheless it does seem slightly odd that an entirely vegetarian meal can cost the same as one including delicacies from the sea and our four/two legged friends.

(This was first posted on egullet)

Morgan M, 48 Liverpool Road, London, N7 8NS, UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 7609 3560
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What others think
The Times - Small, gentle of the highest quality
The Guardian - Notable, classic touch, gives pause for thought and pleasure
Square Meal - Formal without being stuffy
Toby Young - Everything was excellent; an exquisite meal

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