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Marseille - a tale of two meals


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Marseille - a tale of two meals

Phil Laurie | Aug 19, 2001 11:08 AM

We recently made two stopovers in this amazing place. the first thing that hits you when you arrive in the Gare St Charles is an amazing enthnic mix, it really is the place where France and North Africa collide.

There are basically two dishes which are quintisentially Marseille - Bouillabaisse and Couscous and the main aim of our visit was to sample Couscous which is a North African stew served with couscous grains of semolina.

Due to very basic navigation error and three tired children, I had to curb this enthusiasm and we went to a restaurant in the old port area called L'entracte on Place Thiars, which had a shortish menu and outside dining area, they said they where fully booked but put some tables together for us. The kids where made most welcom. Food was to be Bouillabaisse for me and Scotch Salmon for the lady of the house ( I put this down to temporary insanity and will not discuss further) The Bouillabaisse was presented as whole fish, then filleted and returned in a fish broth and eaten with Rouille, a safron chili sauce which you put an large croutons and soak in the broth. it was fantastic of the four diffent kinds of fish I could dentify Rascass and John Dory, it also included potatoes and fennel. More controversially it contained half a lobster, which I know some don't consider authentic, lets just say I don't care it was fine. The kids had a wonderful and huge plate of spaghetti with clams and fresh tomatoes which they hugely loved and ate all of. To wash it down we had a bottle of Bandol - Bunan Rose 99 which was dry and fruity and matched the stew fantastically.

Two weeks later we made it to the originally intentioned Couscous place. La Kahena, 2 Rue Republique, and I have to say had one of the best meals I've ever had in a Restaurant. Starters where a soup called Lablapa which was a spicy broth with whole chick peas, the like of which I've never had before meaty and tender with a huge flavour. We also had Brik au Thon, which was deep frid pastry ( not filo as recipes sayy) with egg egg and Tuna, the yolk of the egg was soft and provided a sauce for the whole dish. We ordered three couscous dishes Lamb, Chicken and Kebab ( for the kids ) but ended up sharing them all curry fashion. All where fine but the lamb was extraordinary, it was so well cooked as to be almost fondante softness and such flavour. We ate it with a fiery hot harrissa relish with was garlicy and salty. Deserts where deep fried Tunisian cakes aand very strong hot mint tea. We drank an excellent bottle Tunisian Rose, Chateau Sibi Rais.

Also wort mentioning about Marseille was the fruit juice bars which are all over the place, they sell a grape juice which was just right for the hot climate, we tried two, one in the old port and one outside the Centr Bourse shopping centre, well worth a stop. I would like to have tried the street food which was everywhere but time was short.

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