Our first night in Marrakesh was marked by being ripped off at the beautiful Salma restaurant. Determined not to be done again, we decided to play it safe and go for a pedestrian tourist meal on ' La Grande Place- Jemaa-El-Fna'- knowing full well that it would be alcohol free as all of the restaurants/cafes there are within 400m of a mosque. The plan was to have supper on the square and then repair to the bar at the Tazi for postprandial drinks, However, as with most well laid plans, this was doomed to failure! We were accosted by a guide even before we had a chance to look at a menu- he was passionate about the poor service, low quality and lack of booze that the square had to offer, and despite strenuous attempts to bat him off (in french), he stuck to us like a leech and steered us to the Restaurant at the Grand Hotel Tazi. where we were greeted(?) by an unfriendly waiter, a chain-smoking manager and a horde of very thin cats. The decor was fashionably shabby chic and suspiciously empty! I asked to see the menu-it was a dogged-eared ( yes, there was only the one) and poorly thought out, but there WAS a choice...menus de jour at 150, 185 or 250 DH...the waiter insisted that we wanted the 250DH set menu, we insisted on the 150.. and were punished!! The waiter took our drinks order... brought the 1/2 bottle of wine to the table immediately, then was too busy with a group of French business people, to open our half bottle for the next 15 minutes.!! We then committed a further sin by refusing to accept his recommendation for our meal 'you will have the. 250 DH menu' 'No, you will bring us the 150 menu' which he eventually did; grudgingly. The salads were magnificent..the couscous awful, the mixed grill enjoyable. When he finally deigned to open the wine, it was very nice indeed. Further punishment was exerted in the form of dessert..a plate of over-ripe fruit would be the kindest description...rotting bananas and unwashed grapes is probably more accurate. This was OK because we were so full of salad and kebab that it didn't matter.. and it kept them happy as the platter was untouched, they would probably serve it up to the next customer!!
would I have put up with this level of service in any other city on the planet? The gaff was empty, the decor was charming, and I was so hungry that I could have chewed off my own leg, and to be fair I'd had worst food and service at much greater cost the evening before ( the very posh Salma) AND in Barcelona last month...( and as a complete aside, I am a victim of the gastro-pub revolution that has taken place in the SW of England over the past 20 years.. so maybe my views shouldn't be taken that seriously).
The surreal nature of the evening made me laugh! It was all 'such fun!' in a Kenny Everett/Miranda sort of way.
In a bizarre twist of fate, as we were passing the Tazi the following afternoon on the way back to our Riad, the waiter greeted us like long lost friends...had we over-tipped, or did he appreciate the fact that we took the whole experience on the chin?
I do think that they, (Le Grand Hotel Tazi) are a learning organisation- after our experience we read several reviews on Tripadvisor, including one written a week earlier complaining abut the appalling toilets... when we were there, the loos were spotless.
As an aside, I must say that as a well rounded traveller, I am always prepared for the absolute worst as far as loos are concerned. Every loo I went into in the Medina was spotless and I only had to resort to my stash of loo paper once- this cannot be said of many major cities in southern and eastern Europe.
If you have a sense of humour, the restaurant at the Grand Hotel Tazi is not that bad. I think they are weary, and got left behind when the plethora of great new places opened in Marrakesh. What they need is an injection of enthusiastic clients who will encourage and not condemn, a good band( if they got rid of 3/4 of the tables they could still do a more covers than they do now AND have space for people to have a bit of a bop) and a couple of bloody good stand up comedians to bring the crowds in.
Call us weird, but we loved it and would certainly go back again!
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- Also Known As:
- Grand Hotel Marrakech