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Looking for a some good restaurants in town that the locals can recommend?
Bistro La Saveur--French and Thai Cuisine (Inside the Hotel Caspien)
by Mary Mimouna, Marrakesh Restaurant Reviewer
Reviewed June 27, 2006
For a refined and elegant Thai dining experience in Marrakesh, I recommend the Bistro Le Saveur (meaning "delicious-tasting" in French). We sat in the indoor poolside section, which has a casual, yet cultivated Thai-Vietnamese style. A white marble floor with pale green walls, mahogany furniture upholstered in plush red, and indoor potted palms greet diners. Golden-colored tablecloths and columns accent the decor. Floor-to-ceiling windows, accented with plush red drapes, let in plenty of light. The colors used remind me of the splendorous charm of bygone colonial days in Southeast Asia.
While half the menu is French cuisine, we especially went to eat Thai food. We shared all courses family-style. We ordered the Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce (45 DH) as an appetizer. The chicken was marinated and grilled in strips, and was deliciously tender. I felt the peanut sauce was not quite up to par--it was good, but not quite the authentic Thai taste. I also wanted the Spicy Shimp Soup with Lemongrass and Mushrooms (50 DH) which was unavailable. The menu has a special page devoted to telling diners that ingredients are flown in from Thailand, asking them to please excuse the restaurant whenever an item is unavailable. The menu explanation helped reduce my disappointment. (I had also wondered how they would get fresh lemongrass in Marrakesh.) In addition, we ordered the Spicy Grilled Beef Salad with Thai Herbs (55 DH) before our main entrÃ©es. This salad consists of cooked, marinated strips of tender steak, mixed with lettuce and marinated onion strips. The sauce was made from Thai fish sauce, lemon juice, cilantro, mint, and a touch of sugar. This salad was so good, and so correct in taste that I felt I was back in Thailand. For our first main course, we tried Red Curry with Seafood and Thai Basil (100 DH), served with white rice. This dish consisted of chunks of white fish and squid strips, cooked with chopped fresh pear and fresh basil leaves, in a very rich, slightly spicy cream sauce. Unbelievably, this dish was even better than the Thai beef salad. One could not eat a better dish than this, even in Thailand. Our second main course was Stir-Fried Noodles with Shrimp and Tamarind (100 DH). This plate consisted of flat noodles cooked with a light, scattered in-mix of shrimp, shredded cabbage, carrot, and onion, and lightly flavored with cilantro and Thai fish sauce. It was served on a large, triangular platter with green lettuce leaves. Over the top was a very thin layer of cooked egg, which had been cooked in a crepe pan and dramatically laid over the cooked noodles. While this version (elsewhere called Pad Thai) was quite all right, I did not find it to be as exceptional as the seafood curry. After our extensive meal, we were too full to consider desert, so I had a cup of cafÃ© au lait, and my friend had the Expresso. They were an excellent finish to a wonderful meal.
The service was average, but we did find the restaurant very helpful and welcoming to children. When we ordered a Pizza Margarita (cheese and tomato pizza) to be split between two children, they brought two plates, each with four slices of pizza arranged attractively for each child. Our children absolutely loved the Smile (non-alcoholic) fruit juice cocktails served to them in fancy bar glasses.
Bistro Le Saveur is located inside the three-star Hotel Caspien, in central Guilez . From Mohamed V, walk two long blocks north on Boulevard Zerktouni, to Rue (street) Loubnane. Turn right, walk half a block, and look on the left side. Or, alternately, from CafÃ© Zohour, walk one block north, and you are exactly at Hotel Caspien.
After owning and running restaurants in Chicago, the Moroccan Kazouini brothers--Halim and Jawal--returned to Marrakesh. They built the delightful three-star Hotel Le Caspien, which opened in September, 2004. Chef/owner Jawad was a Thai chef in America; in Marrakesh, he oversees La Saveur's cuisine. The two Kazouini brothers continue to run a restaurant in Chicago, Chez Joel (where Chef Jawad is nicknamed Joel)..
Bistrot La Saveur (Inside the Hotel Caspien)
12, Rue Loubnane- Gueliz, Marrakesh
THE SPACE One covered sidewalk section, and two indoor sections--our favorite being the back section facing the small pool, where adults can keep an easy eye on children. Smoking is permitted, but ventilation is adequate with plenty of open windows and doors. Clean restrooms.
THE CROWD At lunchtime, a few small groups of Moroccan men, but primarily filled with foreign tourists and ex-pats, including adults and children-- mostly from France, Germany, England, and America.
THE BAR Located unobtrusively at one end of the poolside room, and does not interfere with the dining room (for diners who object to the bar section, the front restaurant sections have no bar, but do have the same menu). The wine list is extensive, with emphasis on Moroccan wines. Champagne is included. The French cocktail list is long, and most cost around 40 DH. This is the first Marrakesh restaurant where I have found an excellent selection of American cocktails and liqueurs--such as Pina Coladas, Margaritas, and Tia Maria (but the American cocktails are expensive, at 60-70 DH). Provides a refined, yet relaxed atmosphere for afternoon cocktails.
THE BILL Salads, soups, and appetizers on the French section of the menu range from 35-70 DH ($4 - $8). Meat and fish entrees are mostly 100 DH ($11), while pizzas range from 40-55 DH ($5 - $6), and pasta dishes range from 45-70 DH ($5 - $8). In the Thai section, appetizers, salads, and soups all range between 45-55 DH ($5 - $7). Main courses, all except the noodles, are served with rice, and range from 85 DH ($10) for the Stir-Fried Vegetables, to 100 DH ($11). Non-alcoholic beverages start at 14 DH ($2) for soda drinks, and go up to 35 DH ($4) for mixed-juice drinks. Our bill, for two adults and two children (with an extensive meal) was about 400 DH ($44).
WHAT WE LIKE Red Curry with Seafood and Thai Basil; Spicy Grilled Beef Salad with Thai Herbs, and the Smile Cocktail (non-alcoholic).
IF YOU GO Open seven days a week, lunch is served from 12:00 Noon - 3:00 PM, and dinner is served from 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM. For those who prefer earlier lunch and dinner times than most Marrakesh restaurants offer, this place is a good option. Accepts reservations at the main hotel number. Visa, Mastercard, and Discover credit cards are accepted. No American Express or Diners' Club.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSABILITY One of the FEW places where the restaurant AND restrooms are somewhat wheelchair accessible in Marrakesh. There is one small half-step up into the hotel (which a wheelchair would need help negotiating), and no other stairs. Doors into restroom and stall doors are wide. Wheelchair could enter the restroom, but not actually into the stall itself (helper would be needed).
La Flamme Restaurant/Cafe
by Mary Mimouna, Marrakesh Restaurant Reviewer
Reviewed June 25, 2006
Open seven days a week, and serving food from 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM, La Flamme Restaurant/Cafe is a clean and comfortable, family-friendly (no alcohol) modern restaurant, offering Italian food in a relaxed indoor-outdoor setting. The cafÃ© is located on the Guilez end of Mohamed V (the main drag), where several streets intersect with the Route de Casablanca, right on the pointed angle corner of the Route de Targa.
Indoor patrons will find floor-to-ceiling mahogany paneling facing floor-to ceiling windows. Upholstered easy chairs and loveseats, in hues of deep reds, blues, and browns are placed around mahogany and glass coffee tables for an informal and comfortable dining experience. The upstairs section features normal-height mahogany tables, and upholstered dining chairs. The outdoor sections feature both chairs, and coffee and dining tables all in wicker.
Having eaten at La Flamme on two different occasions, at different times of day, and with different waiters, I can say that both the service and food were superb. The entire staff seems to be courteous, helpful, and professional. Unlike waiters in many Marrakesh restaurants who have to be asked repeatedly for things, and who don't bring the correct accompaniments or utensils at the time the food is served, waiters at La Flamme remembered to bring condiments, ketchup, sugar, stirring spoons, and napkins without even being asked. The staff was friendly and helpful to the four children who accompanied me on one afternoon visit.
All of our food was delicious, and exquisitely presented. We could tell there was someone in the kitchen who really enjoys cooking! On our first visit we ordered two main-course salads. The Salade La Flamme (house salad) included shrimp and fish, hearts of palm, corn, tomato, endive greens, and lettuce, with a delicious dressing. The Salade de Chevre Chaud au l'Huile d'Argan (Salad with Hot Goat Cheese Triangles, dribbled with Argan Oil) had three types of lettuce greens, attractively served with long, narrow slices of red and yellow bell pepper criss-crossing the top, lined around the sides with sliced cucumbers. The goat-cheese triangles at the front of the plate were dribbled with Argan oil which comes from a special tree native to southern regions of Morocco. The Tagliatelle Alfredo (long, flat noodles cooked in a reduced full-cream sauce with mushrooms and ham) was presented beautifully, in a dramatic oversized dish. (I much preferred the cooked ham used here to some Marrakesh restaurants who serve the dish in the French way with only partially-cooked bacon chunks!) Our freshly-squeezed orange juice was delicious. On our second visit, we had children with us and decided to order two different Panini sandwiches (tuna and salmon), served with fries, to split among the children. The staff were very helpful and cooperative. Both Panini were more delicious than I have had elsewhere, and I would not hesitate to order them again. We ordered the fresh Citron PressÃ© (freshly squeezed lemon juice) which was served ice-cold, with ice-old water and sugar to mix our own fresh lemonade in the glass. Heavenly. We ordered another round. My friend had the Marrakech fruit shake which had banana combined with juice and ice cream. She said she would definitely order it again.
The mostly Italian menu features breakfasts with eggs available (15-35 DH); Panini sandwiches (30-42 DH); main-course salads (45-55 DH); pasta dishes 60-75 DH); savory crepes (30-40 DH); pizza (40-70 DH); meat main courses (80-95 DH); fish dishes (95 DH); and duck (110 DH). An amazing array of deserts are on the menu such as sweet crepes (30 DH) and ice-cream sundaes (45-60 DH). Beverages, including many fresh juices, range from 14 DH to 35 DH for shakes and non-alcoholic cocktail mixes. The menu is very extensive, but contains no soups or appetizers.
One of the best things about La Flamme is that Marrakesh residents no longer need to wonder where they can go for superb food and drink in the off hours of 2:30 PM to 7:30 PM. During these times, one can choose from at least seven different types of Panini sandwiches (served with fries), or from a selection of multiple sweet or savory crepe dishes--in addition to desserts such as ice cream sundaes.
La Flamme Restaurant/CafÃ©
Angle Blvd. Abdelkrim Khattabi et Rue Deraa - Gueliz, Marrakesh
THE SPACE Sophisticated and dramatic, with three dining spaces, and an unobtrusive TV area with sound turned off, but where patrons can see soccer games). As with most Moroccan cafe's, restrooms are located upstairs (no elevator). Quiet background music does not interfere with easy conversation. Every time we checked, restrooms were spotless.
THE CROWD Mostly adult, well-dressed casual, 20's through 40's, but includes children and retired people.
THE BAR None.
THE BILL Salad, pizza, and pasta entrees entrÃ©es range from 45-75 DH ($5 - $9). Meat, fish, and duck entrees range from 80 DH to 110 DH ($9 -$12). Beverages are bit expensive, from 14-35 DH ($2-$4), so that tends to push up the final bill a bit. (Being a cafe, and a restaurant, it seems more is charged proportionately for beverages and desserts because of those patrons who spend time, but order only these.)
WHAT WE LIKE Panini with Salmon; Crepe Maison; Salad with Hot Goat Cheese Triangles and Argan Oil; Tagliatelle AlfrÃ©do; Salade La Flamme.
IF YOU GO Breakfast is served from 7:00 AM to 11:30 AM. Lunch is served from 12:30 to 3:00 PM. Dinner is served from 7:30 PM to 11:00 PM. Open from 7:00 AM to Midnight, there is always SOMETHING that can be ordered off the menu at any hour of the day. Casual seating, no reservations. No credit cards accepted.
Located in the center of Guilez. Excellent food, but a lot of cigarette smoke!
McDonald's--at Place 16 Novembre, on Boulevard Mohamed V, Guilez
by Mary Mimouna, Marrakech Restaurant Reviewer
Reviewed July 17, 2006
Delicious Food, Superior Service, No-Smoking Indoors, Great Restrooms
No longer do tourists have to wonder where they can get delicious and safe food at reasonable prices, in an air-conditioned, non-smoking, child-friendly atmosphere! Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, McDonald's is open from 9 AM to Midnight, Sunday through Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, it is open from 9 AM to 1 AM. While American egg breakfasts are not available, muffins, orange juice, and coffee are served.
Food safety is one of the issues foreign tourists are concerned with in Marrakesh. McDonald's is a safe place to have salads while traveling. McDonald's lettuce and other salad items arrive already pre-washed in a large plastic. Excellent procedures require employees to put on gloves before touching and preparing salad greens into the serving containers. Also, it is very interesting where McDonald's food is coming from in Morocco. According to the manager, the beef is coming from Argentina, while the fish filets and chicken are coming from France. The buns are manufactures in Casablanca under the supervision of a French factory, while the fries are imported from Egypt, already pre-cut and frozen! Canned tuna and canned corn come from Morocco, as well as all the fresh vegetables. The milk used in coffee is not merely pasturized, but sterilized (Salim brand).
Tourists need not worry that McDonald's food in Morocco will taste any different than it does in America. It is identical (even the ketchup and salad dressings), except for certain menu items which are not offered in Morocco (such as egg options for breakfast).
While everyone knows that McDonald's is a child-friendly place, what they may not know is that hidden upstairs is a children's play room. Also, there are two types of high-chairs available (ask for "chaise-bÃ©bÃ©" in French). One type has a small attached tray for the child, while the other type is designed to pull up to the regular table, leans back more, and is designed for the child's comfort in resting, or even sleeping. Inside the restroom's handicapped stall, parents will find a well-designed, pull-down changing table for babies. There is a separate sink included inside the handicapped stall.
McDonald's, at Place 16 Novembre, on Boulevard Mohamed V, Guilez
(right across the street from the Main Post Office)
Tel. none for customers
e-mail none for customers
THE SPACE Two floors. Indoor spaces air-conditioned. Upstairs, an indoor eating space, with excellent view of children's play room (non-smoking). Outdoor balcony area upstairs, overlooking Boulevard Mohamed V (smoking). Downstairs, indoor area with service counter boasts two large-screened TV's (kept at low volume) and a large Ronald McDonald statue. The space is decorated using sand-colored walls and floors, with one darker brick wall. Tables, counters, and wall designs accent the room in a sky blue. Large windows let in plenty of light. Relaxed booths line the front windows, while sturdy chairs at tables have comfortable mahogany backs and seats, and attractive rounded legs made of stainless steel. While the indoor area is non-smoking, the outdoor area is covered from the sun with attractive awnings, and has comfortable chairs, tables, and picnic tables.
THE CROWD Tourists, locals, families, singles, retired, adults, children, and teenagers. Packed at mealtimes, but counter service is quick and efficient.
WHAT WE LIKE Happy Meals (27 DH) and Chicken McNuggets--available in boxes of 4, 6, 9, or 20 (for 16, 26, 34, and 75 DH respectively) are always favorites with children. My personal favorites are Filet of Fish (26 DH), Big Mac (29 DH), and Vanilla Shake (13 DH). For a Middle Eastern flavor, try the McArabia Sandwich--made in pita bread, with two spiced beef patties, lettuce and tomato.
THE BILL Least expensive items are Hamburger 11 DH ($1.20), Small Fries 8 DH ($ .90), and a Small Soda 8 DH ($ .90). Happy Meals (toy, small sandwich, small fries, and small drink) are 27 DH ($3.00). Big Mac or Double Cheeseburger Menu Meal, with Large Fries, and Large Drink (or Large Milkshake) is 44 DH ($4.80).
IF YOU GO If you don't like crowds, try to avoid peak meal times, when you might find all the indoor tables filled (or go upstairs). While milk is not on the menu, anyone desiring a glass of milk CAN ask for it, and they will pour it into a cup for you.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSABILITY Completely handicap-accessible with a front ramp into the restaurant, wide doors, and a proper handicap bathroom for wheelchairs. The only possible drawback would be that the parents' baby-changing table has been placed inside the handicap restroom stall.