Morgan M’s Paradise Park location contrasts with its interior of green serenity. Stiff but slick dickey-bowed waitrons bow and nod when necessary and leave you just enough alone. The rather odd tribal wall hangings that also adorn Morgan’s business cards serve as a motif that seems to depart from the rather classic theme; nevertheless we were there for the food and décor caused little distraction.
Chef patron Morgan Meunier has been cooking this side of the channel for a while, he aided Alex Bentley in achieving his star and headed up the brigade in the Admiralty Restaurant at Somerset House. In 2003 he headed to Highbury and has been flexing his modern French cooking that tends to nod in an occasional easterly direction.
The summer tasting menu has six courses, three of which have two options. First up was slightly chilled gazpacho with an olive oil and tomato sorbet and a wafer tuille. On first gulp I noticed a distinct lack of chill but when the sorbet and its sliky partner got together out came the perfect temperature.
An exact terrine foie gras came next supported by confit of cherry and perfectly pickled chanterelles. Rather than detracting from the flavour and feel of the liver the terrine upheld maintained the deluxe ingredient which one has to look upon as a great treat.
Seared fillet of Red Mullet, a poêlée of razor clam with braised fennel and a saffron broth was definitely the most attractive plate out of the six. Elegantly sliced razor clam and tomato hammocked in the razor shell crossing the red blaze below. As perfectly cooked at the mullet was there seemed no hustling in the dish for first place. All three major elements sat together with out any agro as is the case with dishes that promote three distinct main players.
The monumental portion of lamb came two ways; the shoulder confit and a rolled more refined cut accompanied by a barigoule source, a time-consumingly prepared artichoke and the most stunning Israeli couscous. Not only was this dish massive in tasting menu terms there was so much there that I kept on forgetting what was going on as to heap it all on to one forkful would have been to detract from the separate elements. The couscous deserves a special mention; its pearl like appearance was at odds with the creamy smooth texture that surprised the mouth with a citrus zing and just anough of a savoury bite to balance the heavy intensity of the lamb. Chef Meunier’s generosity here was only matched by his presence at our table, a real treat that to my embarrassment was not awarded to any of the other diners.
I would have liked to have suck my spoon in to another portion of the couscous from the previous course rather than the rice pudding that came as a pre-pud. It wasn’t that the rise pudding wasn’t up to scratch or in anyway unappetizing I have never been a lover of the starchy delight so oft coveted. Still its appearance wasn’t out of sync with the chef’s elegant but practical skills.
Macerated strawberries, vanilla cream a perfect and tiny madeleine and meringue sticks was a homely ending to summer tasting menu. Summery and simple, crisp, sweet and icy and warm in its different components all led to a warm feeling of contentment and familiar satisfaction of the basics done really well.
At £48 excluding wine we are looking at good value for money compared with more central eateries of this calibre especially when considering the portion size. To give the place a more styled and slick interior would make it seem lost and out of place, and for this reason Morgan M’s is accessible, accurate and will hopefully be around for a while longer.