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Restaurants & Bars 4

[PDX] Coupon Cuisine: Marrakesh

Nick | Oct 2, 200408:50 PM

Figured I should go ahead and report on these places since people had asked about or mentioned them.

Marrakesh is one of the two belly-dancing/eat-with-your-fingers style Moroccan restaurants in town. Casablanca being the only other one I know of. I've only been to Marrakesh. I used to work next to it, which helped.

There are three choices: 1) The basic meal at $17.50/person, 2) Royal Feast, $19/person, min of four people 3) Mechoui, $29/person, min of eight persons and three days notice.

For the basic meal, you get lentil soup, a salad, and the b'stilla royale, plus choice of entree, and dessert and mint tea. The lentil soup is tasty, as is the salad, which comes as a ring of cucumber and onion heavily dressed around a disc of some sort of roasted eggplant and tomato thing. I don't know my Moroccan food, so I don't know the name. But they're tasty as well. The b'stilla royale is almond and seasoned ground chicken in puff pastry topped with powdered sugar. It's a bit dry, but on a par with the first two courses.

The entrees consist of a couple lamb dishes, a couple chicken dishes, a couple cous cous dishes, a fish dish, and some other miscellaneous items. The only thing I've had that I remember really liking, and the thing I had the other day, was the braised rabbit in cumin sauce. It has a nice intensity and good balance. Very earthy, but also has high notes. Most of the entrees are pretty simple. Some are a bit sweet, with honey being a common component.

I don't remember my previous desserts, but this last time, I had some sort of pudding that was fine. Typical for this level of place. It's the only item where silverware is provided. They also coat your hands with rosewater at this point, which smells great hours later. The mint tea is nice, though also a bit sweet, obviously heavily flavored with honey. They do the tall pour making it froth up.

You get your hands washed a couple times and are provided with a big towel instead of a napkin. Most of the seats are leather cushions, and you'll probably have your foot fall asleep a few times. As I said, most days there's belly dancing. A young boy, just older than a toddler, who was sitting next to us was memerized by the attractive Princess Jasmine lookalike with a bit more belly and boobie showing. (That kid sure had fun shoving dollars into her outfit. Some day he'll have to come to terms in therapy with his erotic obsessions that started with this meal -- like the effect that Princess Leia's sexy slavegirl outfit in Return of the Jedi had on us pre-pubescent geeks.) People complain about it being too dark, but I disagree. Maybe if you're in a corner.

All in all, it's worth it. It's not at the level of places where the entrees are $17.50, but you're getting 5 courses for that. It's fun and different and decent food and a good value. I would love to have a higher end Moroccan place in town that did a great job.

How is Casablanca? Anyone been to both?

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