We had high expectations going in based on reviews. Those expectations were well met by the experience. Warm ambiance, gracious hospitality, delicious authentic Moroccan specialties served at the table. Owners Abdellah (at front of house) and Dee (in the kitchen) Elhabassi do a remarkable job all around.
To start, it might be useful to take a look at their website for photos of the interior for a sense of the delightful ambiance. http://www.daressalam.org The restaurant was full on the Thursday night we went and it seemed intrusive to take pictures of my own.
Based on hearing conversations around us, the full house seemed largely local folks making return visits and being greeted as friends. Which speaks highly of the Elhabassis. To get a sense of their charming personalities see an interview video link on their website.
Some notes from our dinner experience for four that may come in handy for others planning a visit to Dar Essalam.
1) REMARKABLE FOOD IN GENEROUS PORTIONS: Dinners include pita and hummus at the table as you peruse the menu. Once orders are placed, lentil soup follows. Then a compartmentalized dish of chilled and lightly pickled veggies as salad (Three of the four choices of in our dish were green beans, diced carrots and diced beets). Then the main dishes follow with more warm pita served
Except in our case, the order of service was modified because one of the four main course options we selected was Chicken Bastilla. A classic Moroccan dish of tender chicken with spices cooked in a phyllo pastry with raisins and almonds, it was simply outstanding.
Abdellah wisely suggested the Chicken Basitilla be served in between the soup and salad courses. As Dee presented it piping not from the oven to our table, placing it in the center along with four forks, she said the protocol was to start at the outside and eat your way in until it is gone. Which we happily did. So here is the first dinner TIP…Order this this dish!
Our three remaining entrees were a spicy Vegetable Couscous , Lamb (shank) Tagine with a spicy raisin sauce, Cornish Hen Tagine with a spicy preserved lemon, artichoke heart and olive sauce. There are several choices of sauces for the Tagines and some can be ordered in spicy heat levels from one to five. Learning we are a foursome that likes spicy food, Abdellah recommended a “three” and that was exactly right for us.
All entrees were beautifully presented with fabulous flavors, but there was so much food that we were too full to sample the delectable sounding desserts Three entrees would have been plenty to serve four people and keep dessert doable. Next time we'll order one less dish or have them hold the soup and salad to avoid getting too full for dessert.
2) SHARING PLATES: The four dining that night are close friends which was helpful given the food sharing here might be awkward were that not the case. There are not separate small plates and serving spoon utensils provided as matter of course in many restaurants, so it is more in the mode of putting the dishes in the center of the table and sharing that way. If you plan to share dishes and are shy about digging in with your fork to a common plate, be sure to ask for separate small plates and serving utensils when you place your order.
3) NO LIQUOR LICENSE: No alcoholic beverages served here but there are soft beverages including traditional Moroccan mint tea. Not only is the hot mint tea delicious, Abdellah makes a wonderful, welcoming ceremony of the service and it is served in beautiful glassware.
4) MAKE RESERVATIONS: We made reservations for 6:00 on a weeknight and noted by 7:00 the restaurant was nearly full. We can see why it is popular. While walks ins were clearly welcome, our advice is make reservations.
5) GOOD VALUE: Price points are very reasonable. Seems to me our total bill, including beverages, was under $100. A great deal for this lovely dining experience.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.