Can Los Moros serve up some Moroccan magic at its restaurant in York? MAXINE GORDON finds out

NOT many food joints make the move from street stall to smart restaurant – so congratulations are in order to Tarik Abdeladim who has done just that with his Moroccan outlet Los Moros.

This began as a food stall in a tiny hut in Shambles Food Court in 2015 and quickly won over legions of fans with its take-out trays featuring all the flavours of North Africa and the Middle East. It hit the headlines when it was rated York's number one eating spot on Trip Adviser – beating off much fancier and more expensive restaurants in the city.

So expectations were high when six months ago, Tarik and his team expanded to open a fully-fledged eaterie in the former El Piano premises in Grape Lane.

So, how would the new place compare to the market stall, which is still doing roaring trade at the Shambles Food Court?

There were four of us dining last Friday evening. I'd rung ahead to book a table and discovered there was only a 6.30pm slot left. It sounded like business was going well.

Split over two levels, the restaurant has two dining rooms upstairs and an outside courtyard. We were shown to our table on the upper floor.

The menu was brief, but offered enough choice, with a mix of small plates, big plates and side plates covering all preferences and price points.

My mum and teenage daughter decided to share a mix of small plates, selecting the whipped feta (£5); falafel (£5); garlic and chilli king prawns (£8); spinach and feta parcels (£6) and Batata Harra, Lebanese spiced potatoes (£4).

Me and my husband, Nick, chose from the big plates selection: Persian chicken (£14) for him and grilled seabass fillets with chermoula (£16) for me.

To start, we shared a plate of thick and tangy hummus (£4) which came with some home-made pitta breads which were soft and doughy and still warm: puffs of heat billowing out as we tore them open to scoop up the creamy dip.

For a second starter, we couldn't resist the homemade Merguez sausages (£6), a staple at Los Moros. They looked inviting: three long, cigar-like shapes on a rustic ceramic plate, with a cream dip and pickled veg on the side. But as Nick cut the first open and took a bite, he realised they weren't fully cooked. Oh dear. Things were looking so good, but it's hard to get over being served uncooked meat. Our waitresses were very apologetic and swiftly removed the dish, ordered another one and told us we would not be charged for the sausages. The explanation we were given was that someone else now made the sausages and the chefs had not quite got used to how long to cook them.

That sounded like a lame excuse to me. When the next batch came, safe to say the chefs had managed to cook them perfectly – they were delicious, with just the right depth of spice matching the deep savouriness of the lamb filling.

The restaurant was pretty full by this point, and there was a pleasant buzz in the air.

We decided to put the mishap to one side and plough on with the rest of the meal. We were glad we did, as our banquet was very tasty.

Mum and my daughter were full of praise for all their dishes. I managed a sneaky taste of each (hard life, yes I know!) and particularly liked the falafel which were robust in texture and full of earthy flavours. My daughter's pick was the whipped feta, a luxuriously creamy dip with a slight sour note, which again was served with the lovely fresh pitta breads. A close second was the spinach and feta Bourek, crispy pastry parcels served with pine nuts and honey. Mum adored the king prawns, succulent and meaty and in a hot and sweet sauce laced with garlic and chilli.

Nick's Persian chicken was a treat for the tastebuds too. I have had this from the market stall, so knew it was a winner. The escalopes were bursting with flavour having been marinated in saffron, rosemary and garlic. Accompanying them were pickled slaw, some mayo mixed with spicy harissa and a generous serving of the aromatic and salty Middle Eastern potatoes, Batata Harra, a house favourite.

The potatoes also came with my sea bass, which amounted to two fillets flavoured with chermoula, a heady mix of garlic, cumin, coriander, oil, lemon juice, and salt. It's not often sea bass, my favourite fish, can be upstaged, but tonight's star billing went to the baby courgettes, flash fried in basil oil and still with plenty of bite. The dollop of garlic mayo flavoured with saffron added a satisfying and unifying final touch.

To finish, we ordered a couple of desserts and tea – a blood orange black tea for £3.50.

The chocolate mousse (£5.50) was flavoured with coffee and cardamom, although it was hard to pick out the usually distinctive citrus and herbal notes of the latter. Despite this, it was a good dessert, wickedly chocolatey and even more sinful because it came with a topping of Chantilly cream and a buttery biscuit.

If there was an Oscar for puddings, the raspberry and rose cheesecake would be a contender. The filling was silky smooth and bursting with fruit flavours undercut by the heady tones of Turkish delight.

It was a delicious ending and went some way to make-up for the earlier mishap.

Los Moros, 15-17 Grape Lane, York YO1 7HU

T: 01904 636834


Food: Tasty 3.5/5

Ambience: Inviting 3/5

Service: Good 4/5

Value: OK 3/5

All reviews are independent and meals paid for by The Press