chill out big boy. noones gonna read that.
Sorry, this place is no longer open for business, but we've saved the reviews for posterity.
489 Liverpool Road, Holloway, London N7 8NS
- Highbury & Islington Station (0.5 km)
- Holloway Road Station (0.7 km)
- Caledonian Road & Barnsbury Station (0.6 km)
- Contact us:
020 7609 3560
- Opening hours:
Monday to Friday:
Dinner 18h00 – 22h00
Dinner 18h00 – 22h00
Sunday - Closed
10 reviews of Morgan M in English
The food was good but didn’t blow me away as much as I was expecting. Had I had this food in a less fancy, less expensive restaurant I probably would have given it 4 or 5 stars but for the price the food just didn’t quite live up to what it should have been. The staff were lovely though, and it’s a very nice setting inside.
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For full review, please see: http://wp.me/pwXBH-XC
YOU CAN GO YOUR OWN WAY
I really enjoyed my first meal at Morgan M. The complexity and quality of the cooking was on par with many better-known London restaurants, but was much more affordable and a wholly more personal dining experience. It’s worth making the short trek up Liverpool Road to sample Chef Meunier’s food. Based on my meal, if the front-of-house experience can be smoothed out a bit, and if the kitchen can consistently turn out dishes as good as what we sampled, they certainly deserve consideration from the ever-elusive Michelin man.
On the outskirts of Paradise
Opening to critical acclaim in 2003, French chef Morgan Meunier has been going strong at his small haute cuisine restaurant in the somewhat unlikely location at the top of Liverpool Road in North(ish) London.
Meunier was formerly head chef at the Admiralty, and prior to that cooked at the Michelin-starred Monsieur Max in Twickenham. He has been going strong since 2003 with mostly positive reviews, yet without much publicity, so I was definitely interested to see what this Frenchman had up his sleeve.
We cabbed it to the restaurant from (real) North London and arrived on time for our table.
If I had not seen a picture of the restaurant’s facade beforehand, I could have easily confused its corner location for a pleasant local pub, which it in fact used to be prior to its conversion to the present fine dining restaurant.
However, once you step inside, everything changes. Meunier has succeeded in producing a lovely setting within the somewhat awkward space. The colors are warm, soft and comforting; the tables well spaced; the mood refined yet not too stuffy. Apparently the artwork which adorns the walls (and is on the cover of the menu) is painted by the chef himself.
The restaurant was about half-full and we were given one of the larger tables for two near the back of the restaurant along the wood-panelled wall.
A pretty decorative place setting was there to greet us as we sat down, and I slowly began to notice the attention to detail throughout our environs. The green pattern on the plate matched the scarves of the waitresses, and similar green accents were present throughout…on the wall, on the chairs’ upholstery, on the menu, and so on. Although teetering on the edge of obsessiveness, it was all tastefully done.
Our menus were soon presented and we concerned ourselves with the not so easy task of deciding what to eat. ‘Not so easy’ because, firstly, the dishes all had very complicated descriptions – not a bad thing in itself as it all sounded delicious and there were certainly some interesting combinations – and secondly, we weren’t sure how much we wanted to eat.
Therefore, we hand the quandary of à la carte or choosing one of the two set menus (seasonal and vegetarian). In the end, we decided we weren’t hungry enough to take on either of the tasting menus which sounded a bit too ambitious given the rest of the day’s plans.
As we sat chatting, eagerly awaiting our first dishes, we decided we really liked it in here – it had a nice air about it.
After our orders had been placed, we were greeted with an inviting tray of homemade bread.
My choice of baguette was perfectly nice, with crisp and flakey crust and was even better with the high-quality salted butter, which came on its own silver pedestal. A quick note about the bread: strangely enough, this was the only time we were offered bread throughout the entire meal, even though we ate our single pieces of doughy goodness very quickly after receiving them. This certainly wasn’t a bad thing for our waistlines, but I found it very odd, as with some other of the front-of-house experience (more on that later).
Amuse Bouche: Turnip Cream & Trompettes:
The amuse bouche was simple yet delicious. It immediately displayed the kitchen’s ability to handle vegetables as the cream effectively drew out the rich taste of turnip on the palate. The trompette mushrooms nestled within were also clearly expressed as a complementary secondary flavor. There were deep flavors going on here and I was interested to see what was to come next. 7/10.
Starter 1: Seared Diver-Caught Scallops, Poêlée of Cèpes, Glazed Pumpkin & Nut Biscuit, Butternut Coulis:
This strikingly presented pair of trios was a wonderful beginning to the meal proper.
Each scallop had been delicately handled and perfectly seared, revealing a fragrant sweetness that was enhanced by the succulent carrots and the crunchy biscuit below, which provided a good crunch in contrast to the fleshy feel of scallop and carrot.
The cèpes themselves were excellent – intense, meaty, not at all overcooked – and might just have been the best thing on the plate. I personally didn’t think the butternut squash coulis added that much to the mushrooms (or the scallops for that matter), but it did create certain visual flair in the plating of the dish and represented autumn strikingly well on the plate. 8/10.
My starter was paired with the Sauvignon suggested on the tasting menu (Paul Buisse, Sauvignon Touraine, Cuvée Prestige, 2008) and was very good. But what we found very odd was the awkwardness in communicating with our waitress in trying to select a few glasses of wine to go with our meal. As all of the dishes we had ordered were included in the Autumn tasting menu, and therefore had suggested wine pairings, she simply told us to order those wines. When we tried to politely ask why (and maybe try to get her to recommend an alternative), she couldn’t really express any reason and just pointed at the menu, saying that this is what they recommend. We found this to be a substantial shortcoming for a restaurant whose food certainly seemed to be sophisticated, and we were pretty frustrated with the whole experience in this regard.
Starter 2: Cream of Puy Lentils with a Parsley Coulis, Garlic Beignet:
My dining partner enjoyed her starter, which was straight-forward and let the lentils speak for themselves, so to speak. I was graciously offered a spoonful and thought it was very good, though not particularly memorable – the beignet was a nice addition, though. I did enjoy the visual aspect, and likened it to a little island of golden sand replete with its own green forest, floating on top of autumn-colored seas.
Main Course 1: Seared Fillet of John Dory, Jerusalem Artichoke Soubise, Poêlée of Swiss Chard, Girolle Cappuccino:
I also loved the presentation of my fillet of John Dory. The skin of the fish was nice and crisp, and the fish was well cooked, though ever so slightly too firm for my liking (and I am being finicky here…we’re talking maybe 10-15 seconds too long). What stood out again here was the deep flavors present in the vegetable components of the dish. The creamy Jerusalem artichoke was an excellent marriage with the slightly buttery fish, and there was an extra layer of luxury provided by the light foam of girolles that was poured on one side. Despite its visual impact on the plate, the taste of the chard did not overpower the fish and was a clever addition for the texture it lent the dish. The mushrooms on the side were also full of flavor and I thought the dish was well thought out and executed pretty precisely. 7/10.
The John Dory was paired with the suggested Sancerre (there seemed to be no other option! ), which was okay as far as Sancerres go, but certainly not one to write home about.
Main Course 2: Oven-roasted Suffolk Red Leg Partridge, Sweet Potato Purée, Poêlée of Grapes and Savoy Cabbage, Liver Croûton, Bread Sauce:
My dining companion much enjoyed her gamey main course. The meat was initially brought out a tad too pink for her liking (I am no game expert, but think it was probably fine except one particular spot which did seem too reddish to my untrained eyes), and it was sent back. It reappeared a few minutes later, as beautiful as it had been the first time around.
She really liked the dish, although felt that the portion size was very large, especially given the quantity of rich liver on the plate, which she loved but couldn’t finish. I had a few bites and thought it was a very tasty dish (I agreed it was very rich) that had been elegantly presented – it was a nice snapshot of the autumn season on the plate.
Pre-Dessert: Rice Pudding, Mango Sorbet & Orange Tuille:
The pre-dessert was both beautiful and satisfying. It consisted of a central core of rice pudding that had been wrapped by a caramelized orange tuille, topped with mango sorbet, standing at attention in a pond of mango syrup. The tuille itself was good and, while not the best I’ve ever had, it performed its function of providing crunchiness. The rice pudding itself was a little too cold (maybe due to proximity to the sorbet?) and got slightly lost in the strong fruity flavors, but I must say that the combination worked well and it was a pretty delicious few bites that simultaneously stimulated and cleaned the palate. 7/10.
Dessert 1: Apple and Lime Soufflé & Coulis, Granny Smith Sorbet:
As readers of this blog may recall, I am not the biggest fan of dessert soufflés, but I liked the refreshing sound of this one, and figured that since their seemed to be some serious precision going on in this French-led kitchen, I may as well give it a whirl.
I can happily say that I wasn’t disappointed; to the contrary, I loved my dessert. It was presented in textbook perfection, with good height, and was extremely light and fluffy. The waitress poked a hole in the top with her spoon and poured in some of the bright green coulis and we were off.
The soufflé itself was to my liking and not overly eggy or chewy (i.e. not the texture of scrambled eggs) – and as I said before, it was exceedingly light. The crisp and zingy flavors of apple and lime were an excellent match and I really enjoyed the overall effect, although I think they could have poured a little less of the liquid into the center as it was on the verge of overpowering the delicate soufflé.
The accompanying sorbet was Granny Smith herself frozen in a cryogenic state and was again nice and crisp, with the sorbet not being overly watery. The beautifully presented apple crisp was a nice touch, too. I thought this was a really accomplished traditional dessert, especially given that the cards were stacked against it given my personal biases. 9/10.
Dessert 2: Warm Red Wine & Fig Soup, Roasted Fig:
My friend immensely enjoyed her dessert too, which she ordered without the accompanying Pain d’Epice ice cream due to dietary restrictions. I had a bite and agreed that it was wonderful. It was the kind of dessert I could imagine enjoying on a brisk night in a log cabin high up in the Alps (we can dream, right…), and the red wine soup displayed a perfect balance between sweetness, acidity and spice. I am sure it would have gone perfectly with the ice cream, and I was slightly disappointed not to be able try it – but hey, it wasn’t my dessert after all!
After we had finished desserts, our table was once again dressed with a decorative plate in-keeping with the design scheme – although this time it was petit…presumably because it was making way for the seven 'fours'. The narrow silver tray of dainty treats was both generous and tasty. I ended up ‘having’ to eat most of them as my companion was completely stuffed by this point – I know, poor old me.
The financiers were particularly good (perfectly cooked with the right consistency), as were the nougat and the dark chocolate truffle (with the chef’s signature on it, as with most things in the restaurant).
The real stand-out here, though, was certainly the miniature lemon tart. It was perfection in a single bite. I wish I could have had a full-sized one to take home with me! These were much better than your average petit four offerings. 8/10.
I finished this excellent meal off with a very good single espresso. Or so I thought…
It seemed the kitchen had other ideas, as we were given one final parting gift, a miniature ice cream cone! It was a nice touch! :)
The overall damage was fairly reasonable given the quality the food, totalling £150 for two à la carte menus, with a supplement for the scallops, three glasses of wine and service.
Dial M for Meticulous
I really enjoyed the food and ambience at Morgan M. His complicated yet clean modern dishes were generally a delight on the palate and stunning to look at. It is evident that this is a very personal restaurant where the chef is attempting to project his personality and vision throughout each element of the dining experience. I would imagine that the precise execution of the dishes is pretty consistent as Meunier himself is normally there cooking each day.
He makes a point of greeting each table after they’ve finished their meal – it’s not just something he does for visiting critics or bloggers who identify themselves through their photographing of the food. While this can be a slightly awkward experience – for example, what if you have something not particularly nice to say? – it is a nice gesture and confirms that you are not eating in a ‘celebrity’ chef restaurant, but in a chef’s chef restaurant.
An easy comparison could be made with Alexis Gauthier, another somewhat iconoclastic Frenchman who held fort in the slightly odd location in Pimlico at Roussillon for many years. He too has an amazing ability to bring out the best from vegetables and gained quite a reputation for his careful and refined cooking, holding a Michelin star from 2000 while at Roussillon. He focuses on timely British produce and his menu changed with the seasons, and once he broke out on his own, he never went back to the establishment – almost eschewing the central London celebrity chef gang in favor of his own unique culinary expression. He has now moved in closer to town (Soho, see review here) but is still very much an independent spirit and operator. The parallels are obvious to see.
Whether or not Morgan M.’s location is strange or not is sort of beside the point, as his food is certainly worth seeking out. Possibly in part because of the location and the small size of the premises, he is able to offer very substantial a la carte and tasting menus at very reasonable prices (none are over £50) compared to other French fine dining affairs in the center of town.
The only thing that let us down was the awkward and uneven service provided by our waitresses. While they were warm and tried to be professional, we were not offered a refill of bread, the whole ordering of wine experience was very odd indeed, we waited for them on many occasions and not the other way around (especially when trying to get the bill), they almost gave my bag to another party who departed before us, and so on and so forth. I hope that this was merely a one-off, but who knows.
What I would say is that, if the front-of-house experience had been smoother and if the food was turned out consistently as good as what we sampled, the restaurant is certainly as deserving of a Michelin star. But that is another matter altogether, with many deserving London chefs still waiting for their fabled macaron to arrive.
Oh, and if you’re wondering about the second subtitle, the restaurant resides across the street from ‘Paradise Park’ – no joke.
Wine: I barely got a chance to peruse the wine list, but noted it was French-dominated and seemed to have some interesting and good value options.
Note: I have dined at Morgan M. once, and it was for lunch
A totally amazing hidden gem. Should have a michelin star but they can’t get the inspectors to venture out to holloway road. Beautifully presented, gorgeous food. If it were in mayfair it would cost 50% more: you have to go.
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Great, extremely French restaurant in a slightly dodgy part of Islington.
They ask where you have parked when you arrive, in case you have picked a bad street…
The food is exceptionally well executed and they will match a flight of wines to your menu.
My only reservation is that service can be a bit slow, with big gaps between courses.
An incredible dining experience in such an unexpected location! We went along for Valentine’s last year, and had a really special night (they encourage 'lingering’ over each course, so with a tasting menu, we were there until pretty late!)
Very good for veggies too, if you’re happy to go for the seasonal tasting menu. And the desserts were to die for…
Morgan M, a small French restaurant in an unexpected location just off Holloway Road, is named after the chef and owner Morgan Meunier, who, in my opinion, should have received a deserved Michelin star a long time ago. While the food is very French indeed, the restaurant offers a little British twist, namely a seasonally changing tasting menu for vegetarians entitled “From the garden”. Pooling together my own and other peoples’ experiences of various dishes, I would have to declare all of them faultless. These joys of French cuisine are very reasonable for the quality but certainly not cheap, however, with an evening a la carte menu at £39, and the 6 course (!) tasting menus at £48 for meaties and £43 for veggies. If, after the many courses, you still feel peckish and/or confident, take a look at the impressive board of out-of-this-world cheeses affinés and have some coffee, as the latter is accompanied by lovely petits fours. A very special place for very special occasions!
This French restaurant is a fantastic local eatery at the Holloway Road end of Liverpool Road. It’s very small, in fact it’s like eating in someone’s living room! But not in a weird way…
The waiters are truly excellent and un-pretentious for a fairly pricey place. They have a choice of a-la-carte menu or a fab tasting menu which includes wine for each course. My wife (a veggie) and I (non-Veggie) both tried the tasting menu and loved everything.
If you want a very romantic, off the beaten track, quirky but fab place, then this is the place to go. Be aware that because space is limited they always get booked up at least a week in advance for Fri/Sat.
I love this place for special occasions.
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