My first Moroccan experience

4 Feb

Marrakesh
Studio City, CA

Let me first start off with this: I am very disappointed with this restaurant. This was our first experience with Moroccan food and although the food was very good, I’ve never felt more awkward and un-welcomed in a restaurant before.

It was a bad omen when we arrived at the restaurant and some car almost hit us when we were pulling into the valet. The exterior of the restaurant needs work, as well as a new pair of doors to replace its heavy gymnasium  doors. We had reservations for 8:00 pm. With the whole car fiasco, we checked in at probably 8:05. Also note that when we walked into the restaurant, there was no one at the hostess stand. We were waiting for a few minutes until someone arrived, ushered us into the bar/waiting area and told us that we would be seated soon. We ordered some rum and cokes and sat down at the bar. The group of four women that were already there got seated so we automatically thought that we would soon be seated as well. THEN a group of four people arrived… AND got seated before us. We asked the guy who told us to wait, how much longer? He said, almost ready. We were honestly thinking about leaving but we had driven this far for Moroccan food (we live in Long Beach). Fifteen minutes later, he leads us into one of the many rooms of the restaurant where there were a TON of open tables. There were open tables on both sides of where we got seated. It was 8:30ish. I was so confused. We had reservations for 8:00, bigger parties got seated before us AND there were so many empty tables!!

The waiter comes by and we tell him that we want to do the dineLA prix fixe menu. There were no physical menus available so he proceeded to dictate the menu to us. He leaves and another waiter comes by with a big Moroccan bowl and washes our hands. I realized that other parties of two were also seated when we were. It seemed like he only washed our hands and none of the other parties in the room. Awkward. Looking around, I also realized that the other parties were given what looked like soup in little bowls. Our waiter didn’t even offer us soup. And there was no menu to verify what to expect.

Enough rants… on to the food!!

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Moroccan Trio Salad with Hummus
Marinated eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers and spiced carrots. Accompanied with bread freshly baked that day in the restaurant.

OK you caught me.. we were so hungry that we dove in before I could get a picture! But hey, you can still tell what it looks like! The bread was used to scoop up the sweetly marinated eggplant and it complimented the drier texture of the hummus. The tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots gave a splash of color on the plate and really gave a fresh taste for an appetizer.

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B’Stilla
A blend of tender shredded chicken, eggs, almonds and spices wrapped in filo dough and baked. Served with a dusting of powdered sugar and cinnamon.

I’m not going to lie, I was a little scared of this combination but I was pleasantly surprised that the flavors went together really well. It was like a savory pastry. Really good flavors and I love the flaky exterior.

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From top and counterclockwise:

Beef and chicken kabobs
Served on skewers on a bed of cous cous vegetable with harisa (hot sauce) on the side.

Honey Lamb
Succulent roasted lamb in a honey sauce topped with almonds and raisins.

Lemon Chicken
Fresh chicken slow simmered with lemon zest, herbs, and the perfect blend of spices. Garnished with preserved lemon rind and olives.

Of these three dishes, I have to say that the kabobs on cous cous was my favorite. The beef was grilled nicely and the harisa did nothing but enhance its smokiness. The cous cous was cooked perfectly too. My second favorite was the Lemon Chicken. The chicken was sliding off the bone, it was so tender and juicy. I didn’t quite taste the lemon zest though. The Honey Lamb was no doubt good and I am a big fan of lamb but I’m not sure how I feel about fruit in my meat…

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Baklava and Moroccan Mint Tea

I’m not a big fan of baklava because it’s usually too sweet for me.. and yes, this one was too sweet. The Moroccan mint tea was good though.

Grand Master Foodie says…. THREE OUT OF FIVE STARS
I was very pleased with the food, including the presentation and portion size.
The restaurant and decor needs some remodeling.
The belly dancer was entertaining but she didn’t spend very much time with us.
The low rating is due to the lack of welcome we did not receive. Quite honestly, you can have great, delicious food but if your patrons don’t feel welcomed, they will not return. I would recommend some lessons in customer service.

 

 

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