By Andy Hall
Although I’ve lived in Preston for the past 6 years, I had never even considered trying Moka. Not being a fan of warm drinks, I made the poor decision of assuming it was just an up-market café and steered clear. However, on a rare date day with my wife, she suggested we go and see what the food was like.
Now Moka isn’t just a one-venue restaurant; they have an open plan café in the Fishergate shopping centre that while offering the usual café services, also offers a range of cakes, ice creams and small warm meals (think fancy jacket potatoes or paninis). They also have a new Bar and Grill located on Theatre Street (near the Post Office), which is aptly named because it is a bar and serves grilled food, and of course the Moka Café/Bar/Restaurant that I mistook for just a café on Fishergate road. It all sounds a bit confusing and busy so this review will focus purely on the Café/Bar/Restaurant on Fishergate and the other venues will be reviewed at another time.
The front face of the building is clean, modern and attractive with a pull-out awning and a handful of two seater tables for those rare sunny days. On the day we arrived all the outside tables were full which suggested the inside was probably going to be busy. It seems our well founded assumption was correct, inside was packed. It wasn’t a particularly special day or even a special time, around 2pm, yet there was only two tables free. There is seating downstairs and upstairs with the décor clearly suited to a modern and contemporary environment, in fact sitting inside you could easily be eating in a Manchester or Liverpool restaurant. There is a high level of cleanliness evident within the venue, tables were cleared immediately after guests left and all the bathrooms were spotless.
We were seated immediately by a very friendly waitress, (in fact all the staff are very polite and friendly, clearly they are well chosen and well trained) and after ordering drinks, given just the right amount of time to think over the menu. We decided on trying the tapas platters from the Summer Specials menu, I went for the Con Carne and my wife went for the Vegetariano. The normal menu itself is very well laid out, full of a variety of options with burgers, paninis, sandwiches, soups and salads. The food options may sound generic but the way the chefs cook and present the food really does take it to the next level. If you decide to visit past 5pm on any night however, there is a completely different evening meal Tapas menu. That increases in price but it still doesn’t break the bank: 2 mains and 1 side for £14.95. The tapas options range from Mexican, Pacific, Mediterranean, Meat, Seafood and Vegetarian and there is even an early bird variety between 5pm and 7pm that has even more choices. So many choices, so little time! (With such a variety of choices available, I can’t fully do it justice here so head onto their website http://www.moka-restaurant.com to get a full range of their menus).
The food was delivered in a good time (approximately 20 minutes) and was clearly cooked from fresh. It was presented beautifully on the plate and instantly we knew that trained chefs had cooked our meals and not a microwave. My platter was absolutely delicious, the meatballs were full of flavour and seasoning, the wedges and goujons were crisps with no hint of sogginess and the black pepper beef was to die for. The flavours complimented each other perfectly and no one part of the dish felt like it was overpowering. My wife was full of compliments for the Vegetariano, it was well portioned, fresh and with a full range of flavours and textures. The tapas platters were £8.95 each and were amazing value both for portion size, presentation and flavour.
With a glass of house white, an orange juice, vodka and coke and our two tapas platters the overall bill came to £29.05. We felt that was an absolute bargain for how nice the food was, how attentive the staff were and how pleasant the environment was. We only popped in for a quick lunch but we will be definitely returning again to try the rest of the menu and we cannot wait!
Value for Money: ★★★★★ 5/5
Taste: ★★★★★ 5/5
Service: ★★★★★ 5/5
Environment: ★★★★★ 5/5
Atmosphere: ★★★★★ 5/5
Overall: ★★★★★ 5/5
Verdict: If you’ve got a spare tenner, you’d be mad not to spend it here.
If you have any recommendations for where we should be sending Andy next then please comment below or tweet us @UCLanPluto #FoodieFriday
To see where Andy has already been then click “here“.