Last week I came across djk's post about this new Chelsea Moroccan restaurant just as I was trying to set up a birthday dinner for 10 near a gallery in far west/north Chelsea. (Was originally going to just go with Pepe Giallo.) Went last night, so here's my report. Warning -- we were all novices to Moroccan cuisine, so I will not be able to report on authenticity, but more on the overall experience of this new restaurant.
They were slightly reluctant to seat us in the garden when we asked, because it was "not quite finished," but it was such a beautiful night that it was good enough (and frankly, all they could point to as unfinished was that the wood deck had not been painted). They offered to do a $30 per person family style dinner, which we agreed to. (On the regular menu the entrees are about $15, with a $30 and a $40 prix fixe). What wound up arriving was a 4-course meal as follows:
1) two platters of salads/apps -- the little falafel-like balls were the standout, but otherwise not that exciting; also a very small plate of fries with very spicy sauce
2) clay pots full of stewed chicken, lamb, kofte meatballs with cous cous and vegetables -- the meat was very tender and flavorful, the meatballs weren't that big a hit, the couscous was pretty bland but good enough
3) skewers of chicken, beef and more of the kofta; the chicken was really excellent -- flavorful and moist; a few fries on the side that were pretty good
4) dessert -- small amounts of little phyllo-wrapped triangular pastries in honey (good), a cheesy/pastry dessert (not a crowd favorite), and tremendous fresh fruit platters which were perhaps the best thing of the night. Fruit was plentiful and fresh, with a few whole mangos, good berries, melon, apples, grapes, etc. Maybe not that exotic, but beautifully prepared, abundant and tasty.
Service was very slow (it took maybe 45 minutes for the salad plates to arrive), and sometimes inexperienced/confused, but good-natured.
They have a beer/wine license, not a liquor license. They were pushing their prosecco cocktails (mango, passionfruit and peach), and they were well-liked.
Atmosphere is a bit loungy -- low tables, a lot of backless cushioned stools to sit on, lots of glass lanterns. The inside was pretty, although narrow and dark, split up into lots of rooms. (We walked through one and someone said "Ah, this is the makeout room.") The garden was basically a deck -- very spacious, and pretty.
Apparently they have hookahs, for $25, in apple and a few other flavors. We did not indulge, although other people in the garden did.
Anyhow, it was a fun and festive place for a celebration, and a good option if you're looking for outdoor dining or a romantic spot. We were in general pleased with the food, and I feel like the place was still working through its growing pains.
315 10th Avenue (between 28th and 29th)
door has a big round tiled opening, might not be marked.
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