Marrakesh Palace

On a Wednesday night in Dupont Circle, after drinking away some of the dwindling days of the famous Brickskellar, we were pretty hungry.  As DC’ers might know, the food at Brickskellar is – well, let’s just say the beer is good.  Anyway, we were certainly itching to git some legit sustenance, and so with that we wandered around the corner to Marrakesh Palace.  With it’s palatial and somewhat kitschy decor, it was a little hard to tell if the place was open.  You walk in and through two different curtains – it seemed to resemble the set that was Genie’s bottle in the famous sitcom:

OK, the restaurant doesn't look like this, but felt like we were walking into it.

Anyway, once we walked in, in a typical DC fashion, we saw someone talking to someone in a foreign uniform.  Either the guy was famous or a mental patient – I will be charitable here.

Of course, this is all setting the scene, and what the intrepid reader wants described is the dining experience.  So, here we go.  We knew nothing about Moroccan cuisine, aside from a few French names here and there, what we know about Middle Eastern cuisine in general, and merguez lamb sausage.  In a way, this sort of sets the diner free, since we just asked the chef to get us a dozen or so tapas.  We paired it with a couple of Moroccan red wines (very nice, without being cloying – resembled a Cab, definitely not a Merlot style).

The chef’s choices were largely very good.  The merguez sausages were much better than any I have had previously – less tough and overworked without compromising on the flavor and punch.  The chicken pastry (chicken and almond in a filo pastry topped with powdered sugar/cinnamon) was surprisingly good as a funky savory/sweet combo.  The baba ghanoush was good – though the hummus was undistinguished (frankly, should have expected that).  The real star of the show though, and what left the best taste memory, were the beef cigars – rolls of filo dough stuffed with ground beef, vermicelli and spices.  The vermicelli gave the dish a lovely textural counterpoint to the crispy filo outside, and the depth of seasoning and flavor the beef had was lovely.

Overall, the cost was actually not that bad, about $40 a person (and we bought two bottles of wine remember), and we got a very full range of hot and cold dishes.  In a sense I suppose, we missed out on Morocco by not racing to the tagines on the menu, but I think we got a lot of good variety.  Bottom line, this is worth trying again.

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