The title sums it up really. This restaurant has a vast family history of high quality authentic Moroccan fare and unfortunately failed to impress when we visited in September 2013.
The setting is undeniably beautiful with a shabby chic veneer that eludes to its rich culinary history and adds to its authenticity. We were led down a candlelit alley and welcomed onto the roof terrace. We had been reliably informed that the set menu here was voluminous to say the least and although all drinks were included in the hefty £65 6 course set menu that there was a "light" set menu available that was half the price and allowed you to buy drinks separately. We enquired about this on arrival and the staff were very reluctant to advertise this was available and provide a drinks menu. After a minute or two of faux confusion over what we were requesting eventually a drinks menu was provided and it appeared the price of drinks individually on top of the "light" menu would have far exceeded the cost of the full menu. We loosened our belts and prepared for battle.
After a 45minute interlude on the roof terrace to the soft lilts of the oud, we invited ourselves to dine downstairs as it appeared staff were in no rush to seat us. On arrival at the table we found the staff had spelt our names very carefully out in red sequins. Pushing a photo opportunity, we politely declined. Luckily my partner and I have been together a sufficient time to be able to do without name badges. A little cheesy and somewhat cheapening the high price tag.
Those who are not staying in a riad will enjoy the beautiful surroundings in the central courtyard dining room. Romantic lighting and scents of rose water and perfumed oils fill the room. There were several tables spaced around a central pool. Not too tightly packed but just cosy enough to be atmospheric. Booking definitely recommended if you decide this venue is for you however as there appears to be only one sitting and limited table numbers.
And so it began. One meal would have been enough for several. There were 8 starter plates, followed by three tagines, a cous cous course and several desserts. If volume was a marker of their hospitality then I suspect I was an honorary family member after this feast. What could have been a lovely delicate display of Moroccan cuisine at its simple finest was ruined by sheer volume. It all seemed to be rushed through to allow time for the entertainment.
A traditional tea service and belly dancing was to follow. Having been in other establishments throughout the city that had dancers, it was a welcome relief that each flick of the hip did not require a tip as the show was included in the price. After several glasses of wine all the males were invited to join in. A quick work out to allow more space for dessert.
Having said all that, the staff were very friendly and definitely an entertaining place to take younger family members, albeit an expensive night out for tiny mouths.
Very difficult to gauge whether this was true Moroccan flare or a touristy extravaganza. I suspect the latter.
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