Moroccan Sahara Restaurant

MOROCCAN SAHARA RESTAURANT39 Hereford Road, London, W2 4AB

13/2/13

My partner and I decided we would celebrate Valentine’s Day a day early. I recently saw a chef on TV serve an amazing goat tagine (F.Y.I – Great British Menu) which reminded me of the tagines I had tasted in Morocco on holiday, so there began my huge craving for Moroccan food. My partner had never tried this type of cuisine so I was itching to take him to sample it.

Researching for restaurants on the internet, we were quite surprised with the price of dishes for the majority of places we found; they ranged from £12 upward for a main ‘tagine’ dish. We came across the menu for this restaurant, and decided to book a table mainly because of the price of the dishes (they were on the cheaper side) and easiest location to drive to.

We arrived at this restaurant, to find it completely empty! We contemplated leaving and eating somewhere else but decided to stay and taste the food this restaurant produced. We were greeted with a silent waiter/owner who during the meal sat behind the bar in a chair or gazed (rather longingly) on to the street outside near the door. Which made us assume that they do not get many customers, if any – not the most encouraging sign! :S

We ordered a starter to share and a main dish each. The starter we chose was a ‘Goats Cheese B’stella’ which is a filo pastry parcel filled with goats cheese and almonds. For the mains we ordered a lamb tagine with  caramelized prunes (me) and lamb tagine with pumpkin and pine nuts (my partner). The starter arrived relatively quickly (about 10/12 mins after we had ordered which was nice because it was a very unusual feeling being the only customers in a restaurant. Obviously there was no ambience, but there was Middle Eastern music playing in the background – which made the experience a little less awkward. The starter arrived as one big parcel, which we were surprised about as we expected multiple pieces of pastry. We divided the parcel equally and unfortunately this did not produce an even distribution of the filling, it seems I had mostly the goats cheese in my half and my partner had the nuts. The starter tasted OK, it was not fantastic but it was tasty. The pastry was very greasy and did not taste fresh – I think perhaps because the starter had been cooked directly from being frozen.  (This is a theory I have, because when I cook spring rolls etc from frozen, they do taste a little greasy and not fresh!)

The  main courses surprisingly arrived nearly 5 mins after we had finished the starter which was very unusual but welcome.  They arrived in traditional clay tagine pots, whose lids were both lifted up at the same time by the waiter/owner. On first impression I must admit my tagine looked very dull, a sort of weird grey/green colour with specks of orange which is not a hue I would expect of food! However the smell of the food was really nice and warming.  A small bowl of couscous also accompanied the tagine main dishes. The food was incredibly hot when we first tried to taste it – which did make me think that perhaps the tagines had also been frozen and had been heated in the microwave before serving? This idea was backed up by the speedy arrival of the dish, after the starter and the fact that we were the only people eating in the restaurant.

Despite these possibly obvious flaws, the tagines were very, very tasty. The prunes complemented the lamb perfectly and the lamb was brilliantly cooked (it was flaking while being cut and melted in the mouth). My partner did not enjoy his tagine as much as I did, as he felt the pumpkin added nothing to the dish but enjoyed eating it all the same (score!). I had perhaps thought we would not be able to finish the mains but the food was so good, we had actually finished before we realised!

The tagines were very tasty with a nice, cumin and cinnamon infused flavour, seasoned well with perfectly cooked couscous. The only down side to this restaurant was the absence of ambience and the possibility that the food (although very good) may have been warmed from frozen instead of being made fresh.

Verdict: I would go again

The food was very good and I would want to go again to see if other people come to eat here too. I would also come to spread the word about their food because it is a shame if they do not get more customers, as food was very enjoyable. The service was good but I expected the waiting to staff to be attentive as we were the only customers in the restaurant (sorry if that sounds snobby). Staff were friendly 🙂

  • Food: 8/10 – tasty and flavour-some food. However marked down because of my theory the food was frozen and not freshly cooked.
  • Ambience: none however thankful they had some middle eastern music in the background so not every part of our conversation could be heard!
  • Decor: very homely and traditional. In fact a little dated, I wouldn’t be surprised if the decor has not changed in over 7 years! It did give the impression of a family run restaurant – very homely.
  • Service: good
  • Value for money: not very good considering we got 2 mains and shared a starter – however better priced than the majority of other Moroccan restaurants we had found.

(starter, 2 tagines (including couscous x2) = £36.85. We forgot to pay a service charge (very bad form)

ImagePicture 1: pine nut and pumpkin tagine. Picture 2: caramelized prunes and lamb tagineImage

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~ by khannablog on February 27, 2013.

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