Clerkenwell, London

The duo behind Parilla have another hit on their hands


Ben Marks and Matt Emmerson’s follow up to Perilla, their Newington Green restaurant, takes its name from the genus of edible fungi that is more commonly known as morel on these shores. In Clerkenwell, Morchella deals in Mediterranean-inspired sharing dishes and is marginally more casual than the restaurant in which the pair made their name.

Just off buzzy Exmouth Market, Morchella echoes the neighbourhood feel of Perilla but is more high-spec with its raw plaster, stripped original wooden panelling, mid-century furniture and slick cutlery draws built into each table. The high-ceilinged space - it was a former bank, and quite a grand one at that - is much larger than its older sibling with a spacious 68-cover dining room, open kitchen, separate wine bar, downstairs private dining room, and a 24-cover terrace. 

London’s dining scene is not short of broadly Med-inspired sharing menus but Marks - whose CV includes Noma and a long stint with Phil Howard at The Square - has penned something that feels fresh and distinctive. All handled and presented with minimal fuss, dishes include salt cod churros served on a pool of Romesco-like sauce; little rolls of vitello tonnato; hake enveloped in sobrasada; salt-baked poussin with house-made chilli sauce; and iced salad, a collection of sturdy leaves dressed with a simple dressing that turns out to be far more than the sum of its parts. 

Compiled by Emmerson, the exclusively European wine list is largely arranged geographically and means business, showcasing some of the continent’s most in-demand low-intervention producers. Prices are accessible (it helps that some of the wine is served via keg) but there’s plenty on the 150-odd list for those wishing to splash out. And why not? The pair’s highly successful move to a more accessible location is worth raising a glass to.