Mansouria was created by a small ‘legend’ in French Moroccan cuisine. I hear that Fatéma Hal was the first North African woman to have a cooking show on television, she is considered one of the leading chefs of this cuisine in France and her restaurant is one that started as a response to her cooking for friends and has grown organically thru the years, annexing adjoining storefronts as they became available. Friends have told me about their parents going to eat here on special occasions and I expected ‘haute cuisine.’
We were 3 on a Thursday night without a reservation and were greeted kindly and shown a table in a comfortable dining room. The other diners were French-speaking, no tourists, but the waiter offered menus in English. There are some specialties – pastillas both savory and sweet, unusual tajines and some delicately perfumed couscous. We started with an assortment of hot and cold starters that were extremely fragrant and beautifully spiced. The couscous voile, scented with cinnamon, was the big hit of the main courses. The service was friendly and efficient, the room attractive.
In Paris there are 3 sorts of North African restaurants – ‘cheap and cheerful’, ‘good and filling’ or extreme/elegant. I thought from the build up that Mansouria was going to be in the last category; without fault, it fell into the second. I expected something else but enjoyed my dinner. I would go back but would not go out of my way to get there.
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