Having built a wealth of experience working in top restaurants across London and Europe such as Frenchie and Michelin-starred restaurant Portland, chef João Ferreira Pinto and sommelier Carolina Seibel took the brave decision to branch out and do their own thing. The result – Moio – is a gorgeous, welcoming little spot at the T-junction of Stoke Newington’s Church Street.
If you’re familiar with the area you’ll know this location has changed hands a fair few times. For that reason, we were surprised to discover Moio had been open since January. It seems that we’d written that space off in our heads and never taken much notice of the new exciting things going on within. Well, no more.
The intimate space has been decked out with Portuguese tiles, rustic wooden tables and a small open plan kitchen, with both João & Carolina taking it in turns to bring out dishes from the pass. The small menu is designed to share with smaller dishes starting from £3 and larger plates from £14.
We kicked the night off with bright, tangy watermelon gazpacho – the perfect antidote to the muggy weather outside, served in the most gorgeous earthenware cups.
Sourdough comes via The Dusty Knuckle, pepped up with coffee flavoured butter and elsewhere perfect circles of beetroot (that look like it had taken an age to prep) are served in an anchovy can. There are lots of little nods to the founder’s backgrounds throughout. She’s from Sweden, he’s from Portugal and both countries are referenced throughout the menu, often within the same dish. Take the Queijinho de Azeitao, a traditional Portuguese set custard served with an almond base, flor de sal (a delicate salt crust), olive oil and forest berry ‘snow’ that we had for dessert.
But before we got there we started with little bites of layered radicchio, smoked eel and pickled watermelon radish. A highlight for us was the heirloom tomatoes – so often seen on menus, although never quite like this. Here they’d been paired with tart gooseberries and a scoop of cheese ice-cream. Dotted with crispbread, raspberries and leaves, it was the sort of memorable dish you find yourself telling people about in the pub later. (Just us?)
Also reinvented was the tartare, lamb mince replaced the more often found beef and found the unusual friend of an oyster to top it. The brown sludge of onion puree – although not much of a looker in itself – had been tarted up with dots, shavings & perfectly placed leaves.
Larger dishes include the sunshine-yellow seafood barley with spicy bisque (like a rustic, lighter take on a paella) and slow-cooked short rib with charred aubergine.
Rather unsurprisingly, Moio takes their wine seriously, understandably given that Carolina is at the helm. Each wine from the exceptional list (you won’t find any boring pinot grigio here) is served in the appropriate glassware. Trust us, this makes a HUGE difference to the enjoyment of your wine.
Alongside the Queijinho de Azeitao we mentioned above, for dessert, we shared English strawberries, roasted almond milk ice-cream and fennel granita. A refreshing, vibrant dish and a real looker.
It’s the sort of place you leave, really, really rooting for. Remember folks – use it or lose it.
Co-founder Carolina says “For Joao and I, the relationship between great food and wine is so important which is why we’ve created a space for people to come together to share in this – with us and each other.”
For reservations visit www.moiorestaurant.com