Given the high review ratings here, I must admit we had high expectations of Riad al Bartal.
The ambiance was gorgeous, a dream of a riad setting, very romantic and lovely for a special dinner.
But then, sadly, expectations were not at all met.
Our food was okay - not amazing, (for instance, not nearly as good as our dinner the night before at Dar Hatim, which was also cheaper). For the cost, which was what I'd spend on a good meal back here in the U.S., I expected more than a few small salads, a moderately good tagine, and a western-style pear crumble with far more crumble than pear.
But it was the service that really made the experience so much less than it could have been. We sat down at 8, the assigned time for dinner, and the server did none of what you'd expect at a nice restaurant -- he didn't give us choices for food, but also didn't tell us what the set meal was, or even that there WAS a set meal that would involve the following courses, x, y, and z. He didn't welcome us, or give us any sense of hospitality. He plunked down a drinks menu, and then just started bringing out courses.
The courses, already prepared for the prearranged time, then came out SO fast that there was, again, no pace or ceremony or niceness to the dinner. Now, I don't like waiting forever for my food. But this felt like fast-food, not a nice restaurant. The instant we finished one thing, the next came out, everything had clearly been pre-made, since it's a pre-set menu -- meaning that we finished a three course dinner 45 minutes after we started! If you're in a rush, that's great. But if you are looking for a nice dinner in a beautiful location that FEELS like a really nice meal, this wasn't it.
We wanted to linger a bit at the end of our meal, since the location _was_ absolutely gorgeous. So we asked for mint tea (not included in the price of the meal, but we were happy to pay extra). Guess what - this was the only place in all of Morocco that did not have mint tea! So, 45 minutes after sitting down, we left.
If the price was half what it was, I'd rate this higher. But for this price, a little ceremony, a more welcoming service, and a little better food, should be expected.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- You'll be charmed by this riad in the Arab-Andalusian architecture. the limited capacity of 5 suites and 3 rooms, allows you to customize the contacts and to take the time to settle down in an harmonious décor. the patio filled with green plants offer more intimate corners for reading. A library is available and full of books on the history and cultures of Morocco and the art of oriental cooking but also something to prepare for documenting his visits to the medina and its surroundings. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Riad Al Bartal Hotel Fes