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El Mansour Report

Maya | May 25, 200211:25 AM

Though I'm usually an shy "asker," not a "reporter" on Chowhounds, I thought I should share my experience last night. Please treat me kindly for my first shot at a long post!

A group of 7 of us went to El Mansour Moroccan restaurant for a very fun night! The interior is a very cozy tent-like atmosphere and each party sits on colorful cushions around a low, round table. Each person orders from the prix fixe menu (either 20.75 or 23.75, depending on your entree). I don't know how the food compares in terms of authenticity, but everyone in the group thought it was all delicious.

First, our waiter came to our table with a kettle of warm water and a basin, poured the water over our hands to rinse them off, very important since you eat with your fingers. Then they brought us each a bowl of Harissa, spicy lentil soup. Then, our table was brought a huge platter of "salads," consisting of cucumber salad, sliced carrot salad, chopped eggplant salad, and green tomato salsa-like salad, which was all delicious. You eat everything with your fingers and hunks of fantastic hot, fresh bread that they bring around in baskets periodically.

Then we were presented with another platter of pistaya, this one made with chicken, almonds, phyllo dough, almonds and sprinkled on top with powdered sugar, which was difficult to eat with our fingers, but we persevered and were rewarded with a most unusual and delicious dish.

Then each of us got our entrees, which included rabbit kabob, vegetable couscous, chicken with honey and prunes, chicken with lemon and olives. I got the lamb filet brochette, which was incredibly delicious- tender, quality meat chunks on a skewer, served with couscous and roasted vegetables. Everyone was amazed at the tenderness of the meat and the delicious spices.

Feeling stuffed, we lay back on the cushions and waited for the next installment. Our waiter reappeared to rinse our hands again, sprayed them with rosewater and then poured us glasses of sweet mint tea. Then she brought out the final course, a plate of fried bananas with honey and powdered sugar on top. She asked us how we liked the food, and we all replied, "Delicious," and she said, "We think so too! I've worked in 4 other restaurants where I'd never eat the food, but I love eating here!" She was very happy that we enjoyed it too.

I can't forget to mention the bellydancer! She had a great rapport with the customers, and did some pretty amazing stunts including dancing while standing on upside-down glasses. Instead of making people uncomfortable, as I've seen happen with belly dancers, people got into it.

The service was great; the staff worked as a team and despite the fact that there was a party of 35 on the other side of the room, we were never neglected, our water was refilled promptly and often.

Lots of smiles and full tummies all around. It might not have been the most sophisticated evening in San Francisco, but it was really fun and tasty. I would definitely go back either with a group or just as a couple.

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