The thing that attracted me and the boy to this Old Street eaterie was that it’s a fusion of Moroccan and Mediterranean food. Oh, and it’s on Tastecard too – you know, that very handy green card that gets you 50% off thousands of restaurants across the capital.
While I like to wine and dine in some very swanky establishments (and tell you about them on Oh So London), we do have a penchant for a good deal – so long as it’s not compromising on quality.
So, the first tip I have for this East End place is to book ahead if you’re going down the Tastecard route as we got a polite telling off for doing the walk-in thing. Well, it was a Thursday night, is that so bad?
The main entrance itself is a non descript neon sign which blends into the shop fronts of busy Old Street. But the striking black and white portrait of a lady wearing a Louis Vuitton scarf around her face on the adjacent building certainly caught the eye.
As you step into the place, it is also far from boring. Coloured glass lanterns hang form the ceiling, warm colours fill the room and a retro Casablanca poster catches your eye.
Outside, there’s a heated area where you can drink coffee and order shisha. Although I’m not a big fan, the earthy smells certainly add to the Moroccan atmosphere.
We seated ourselves in the dining area and Mr OhSo pointed out exactly what I was thinking, that the staff at Bogayo took a very long time to take our drinks orders. Definitely more than 10 minutes.
Were they punishing us for not booking ahead? Are Tastecard customers not treated as well as full-paying customers? I’m not sure. But we forgave them when the menus came and I eventually got a nice big glass of white.
I’ve got to say, it was a unusual taste and the sweetness of the spices with the icing sugar topping made it almost feel like a dessert.
But that’s what I like about Moroccan food and it was a pleasant way to start the meal.
For mains, I just had to go for the lamb tagine as it’s something I’ve wanted to try for a while. I hoped Bogayo would meet my high expectations for this well-known Moroccan dish. As for the boy, he went for Couscous Royal. Being a meat eater I think he went for this dish as it seemed to contain quite a variety of meat – a bit rash maybe? I’ll tell you in a bit!
The lamb tagine was pretty good actually. Initially I thought I’d have preferred to have it as a stew rather than as a lamb shank as Bogayo serves it. But as I discovered, the bone adds extra flavour and it was simple yet tasty. The apricots and prunes in the Moroccan spiced gravy added a sweetness and there was texture from the roasted almonds and sesame seeds.
As for the meat, I was quickly convinced by serving it as a shank as the meat was so soft and fell off the bone.
The waiter brought over a harissa – a very spicy chilli paste – which Mr OhSo dipped into. But really, this dish needed something wet so I ended up offering some gravy from the tagine.
Having said that, if like my other half you’re a big meat eater, the Couscous Royal comes with marinated lamb, chicken skewers and merguez sausages – so it’s great if you’re feeling extremely carnivorous!
There were also some non-descript vegetables in what I think was an aromatic liquid. This, was perhaps what you’re meant to pour over the couscous although Mr OhSo barely touched it so I don’t think it was that great.
We did order a dessert and although it looked like a microwavable pud you’d pick up from the supermarket, it did actually taste pretty fantastic. I’ll let them off for the slightly naff spray cream, but not sure I’d pay a fiver next time for a dessert that’s not home made! (If you’ve been to Bogayo and know otherwise, do correct me).
So, feeling pretty glowy from our aromatic and hearty meal, we left for home. Bogayo’s food didn’t blow me away, but it was certainly a nice change and for 50% off, it was a nice, relaxed night out
If you happen to go, opt for the chicken bastillo and the lamb tagine as these were the most flavoursome. I’d like to go back over the weekend when it’s bustling to try out their cocktail menu (the waiter promised me they do a mean pornstar martini).
I’ll just make sure we book ahead if we’re going Tastecard!
Until next time x
Bogayo, 320 Old Street, Shoreditch, EC1V 9DR, 0207 012 1226