Mosaic Grill Review: A Tale of Two Tagines

Saturday, October 15, 2016

We’re big people watchers but will be the first to admit we typically ignore everything and everyone on the Old Kent Road in South London. (If you aren’t familiar, it’s the fifth circle of hell where traffic makes us wrathful and boisterous locals make us sullen.) Yet, the peregrine blue and white tiles at this Moroccan spot made us want to ‘stop and smell the flowers.’ Or rather stop and taste the tagines!

Mosaic Grill, 249 Old Kent Rd, SE1 5LU
Nearest station: Elephant & Castle  /  Parking: nearby Tesco superstore
Food: 5/5 Service: 5/5 Atmosphere: 4/5 Cost: £ - Excellent value

Tucked beside a bright yellow car wash, Mosaic Grill is an unassuming café serving Moroccan cuisine from 10am until 11pm every day. Noticeably, there are often natives breaking bread together here. As a matter of course we take this to be an indicator that the food is not only good but authentic! The menu offers traditional Maghrebi breakfast spreads, light lunch options like grilled meats and mezze, sweets, and viennoiserie. All dishes are prepared in-house using fresh, loose produce “just like mama makes it” to quote the owner and genial host, Mohammed.

The main attraction for us are the tagines: these you absolutely must try if you visit. The tagines at Mosaic Grill feel like a homecoming of sorts, they're familiar, hearty, fragrant, and warm you from within. They're also a steal in terms of pricing. (under £6!)

A throng of tagines at the counter. A tagine is a spiced North African stew, typically of slow-cooked meat with vegetables. It is also the name of the shallow dish and conical lid in which the stew is cooked.
We tried not one, but two tagines. But first, a Moroccan tea and a hot chocolate - the velvety thickness of which made little S wonder if we had teleported to continental Europe. I paused for a moment breathing in the spearmint sprigs in my glass before assuring him we were still in Brexiting Britain. Taking a sip of the tea, Mohammed was perhaps a little too generous on sugar for my palate, but “you’re too sweet” is hardly a complaint. I still had two glasses.

To start our meal we took a large bowl of loubia that was just coming off the stove; piping hot white beans in a light tomato sauce seasoned with cilantro, garlic, cumin, and harissa to kick. We spooned the beans on to our mosaic side plates and mopped up the sauce with chunky slices from a fresh, crusty loaf.







Onto the main attraction, the two tagines! The dishes came once again with a basket of fresh bread but we added a plate of rice on the side. We tried a caramelised lamb joint with prunes. This tagine was dark in colour with a rich, sweet profile to match - honey, cinnamon, ginger and turmeric - permeating the prunes and making for a pleasant pop in the mouth. (De-pit your prunes first!) The lamb joint was perfectly tender having soaked up the juices of the stew, meat slid off the bone with ease and melted in the mouth. Our tip: complement this dish with spicy rice to balance its sweetness.

Our second tagine was a kofta; a savoury tomato based stew seasoned with coriander, garlic, chilli, and parsley. By S’s estimations it is “the only way to ever eat kofta again, forget the shish sticks!” I entirely agree, the infusion of stew into the balls is an entire new world of moreish flavour. 




We had a fine taste of Moroccan cuisine but equally, the ever hospitable Moroccan custom; Mohammed and his team treat customers like guests in their own home. 

Our verdict: You should cumin and make plenty of thyme to souk up the flavours of Fez. And be sure to share your visit using the hashtag #EATtheFiveEs

Got a punnier verdict? Leave it in the comments below!

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