PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
Moroccan restaurants are not widespread but popular among those familiar with the healthy, vibrant cuisine. As colourful as his country's bounty of spices, Mohammed Bartouch is the charismatic chef and owner of Marrakech. Quite the character, he makes appearances in the dining room throughout the night. "I like to personally meet my diners," he grins, "they should know me as a friend who loves cooking for them whenever they want to visit". That said, reservations are advised at this intimate 40-person eatery. Once there, you will be seated at a table warmed by a lantern's glow under a ceiling of suspended starlights. Walls as dark as night provide an exotically effective backdrop. Just one wall hanging is employed in Marrakech's simple, sleek decor. The look is contemporary – in tasteful contrast to the traditional dishes paraded from the kitchen.
Mains arriving in tagines are part of the fun. Their conical lids are theatrically whipped off to reveal the goodies inside and then whisked away so as not to intrude on your table space. This is better filled with sides of lighter-than-air cous cous, Morocco's national dish, and adass (cooked brown lentils blended into a heady dip of onion, garlic, coriander, cumin, paprika, pepper, olive oil and snip of chilli). Msemmen mahchi (flatbread stuffed with meat and spicy salsa) comes in handy at this point – either as a vehicle for dips or whatever you chose your tagine to be laden with. Lamb afrah will bring mouthfuls of tender meat in a sweet mix of cinnamon, prunes, honey and roasted almonds. Sesame seeds complete this dish of luscious tastes and textures. Just as sweet as Mohammed's Moroccan pancakes (served with honey, butter, strawberries, cream and walnuts…sigh) is his personally poured mint tea and the heavenly rosewater he spritzes on your hands before they wave farewell.