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Family of 6 report - Tajine - Moroccan

Native SF in Midwest | Mar 24, 200609:04 AM

Today's adventure included a visit to the tenderloin area restaurant Tajine. We had walked up Market St. with the City Guides tour and left the tour early as the kids were hungry. Our request for a previous reservation for 4:30 being moved up to 2:30 was welcomed. Since the place is tiny, four tables in addition to the two put together to accommodate us, we really appreciated their effort to make sure we were seated immediately. It was just the chef and a sous chef-type assistant doing everything. The chef took our orders, prepared our meals and delivered them.

So how did the family do with this? It was universally loved, top to bottom. My father joined us making the group seven and he took the leftovers to my step mother so we actually filled up eight tummies during our visit. We started off with the Moroccan mint tea. I must insist that everyone who goes, try this, even if you do not care for mint, you must try it. The baby loved it and my 8 year old drank 7 cups of it. In all, we went through three large pots of it. Lots of Moroccan bread with sesame seeds was loved by all.

After just these two items we knew we were in for a wonderful feast.

I need to qualify that we have had "Moroccan" food at the Morocco part of Epcot at the Cafe Marrakech and at a small restaurant in San Luis Obispo, so we had some familiarity, but we all new that neither had been the real treat. All that changed today.

We started with the Harira Soup, a hearty lentil soup with finely chopped onions and slight curry and tons of other seasonings. One hound said it was the best soup in the world. Easily half the party agreed. We shared one bowl to a pair and it proved plenty, in fact we have slightly over one serving left over in the fridge for someone tomorrow.

As the chef finished creating each item, he brought it to us and then went back to prepare the next item, so there was a constant flow of treats, each decidedly different from the previous.

The chicken bastilla was loved by everyone. This was fantastic and gobbled up quickly. I hate to describe it as I may not do it justice and possibly dissuade someone from trying it. Just trust me, this is a perfect blend of savory spices and sweetness. I cannot think of anyone who would not love this.

The chef recommended the lamb Tajine and it was excellent as well. It was the least complicated of the dishes as far as the layers of seasonings, but it allowed the flavor of the meat to shine through. It was fall off the bone tender and apart from the obvious backbone anatomy of the piece being a little disturbing, it was fantastic. I only wish it had a little more meat for us to enjoy, highly recommended.

Chef also suggested to continue sampling standard Moroccan fare we should try the Reghaif, a flaky flat pastry stuffed with mildly spicy ground beef and onions served with salsa and cucumbers. This was also a big hit and by then I was receiving high praises for the meal choice. Thank you all who offered suggestions.

The culmination was with the entree we choose, the Brochette Royale. This was a combo plate with kabobs of lamb, beef and chicken, each with their own distinctive flavor. This is a good choice for the less adventuresome as the meat was chargrilled and could have come off of a backyard barbecue. Do not let that statement discount it, it was fantastic. It was just very familiar and good for the person who normally would order "the steak, please" when out with others. Included on the same plate were the Shalada and the Beet salads. Both liked and my middle daughter love the beet salad. Nothing too fancy here and again a good choice for the food timid.

We finished with Shpakia, a pastry drizzled (actually soaked) in honey. Everyone found this to be a perfect compliment to the meal. Something like ice cream would have been to heavy, but the meal needed a final sweet ending. Everyone loved this too.

Overall this visit was fantastic and is definitely on the permanent "do again next year" list along with Slanted Door and Limon. The neighborhood was a little rough and I wouldn't comfortably take my family there in the evening, but midday is no problem. The 38 Geary Street bus stops 1/2 a block away and things were fine. A few panhandlers, but not as bad as the area near the terminus of the Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason cable car line at Market. This adds to the wonderful "hole-in-the-wall" feeling of the place. My father commented on the way that the rather generic exterior has nothing that would have drawn him in and was very grateful to have been guided there by you, the hounds.

I consider this the best family meal of the visit so far. Did I mention the tea?

The geographic position of Morocco on the northern part of Africa with it's Mediterranean ports has lent itself to being a trading capital and with that many spices have flowed through the country for ages. Nothing is too spicy and pretty much every dish has around a dozen spices. There is a sweetness component to each most items that make this an easily palatable meal for all. This would be a great place to take the less adventuresome, introduce them to the exotic flavors and perhaps incite them to pursue other, less well known cuisines and add another to the Chowhound fold. You will be viewed with admiration for your culinary prowess.

Check was $66 and with tip a little over $80. Very impressive for feeding eight starving people.

GET THERE and take someone with you. It is a crime to not share the delight with another.


(Reposted with needed edits)

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