Dar Maghreb Moroccan Restaurant - 7651 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, 323-876-7651
Last night, a group of our friends met my husband and me for Moroccan food at Dar Maghreb. We've all been wanting to get together there for years. We finally did... and had a blast!!
It's the third time my husband and I had eaten there - the first was our first date back in 1987; still, we were blown away by everything: the atmosphere, the music and dancing, and of course - the food.
The Atmosphere -
it's absolutely gorgeous. We entered through a large brass, key-hole shaped door into a ceiling-less courtyard of white arches over artistically tiled floors, finding a gurgling fountain under the blackness and stars of the night sky. We continued into the dining area where the high painted ceilings were dimly lit by ornate Moroccan lamps and intricately carved wood decorated the doorways. There we sat upon cushioned seating surrounded by ornate pillows and brightly tiled walls.
The energetic Moroccan music played continuously in the background, rising in volume before each time the belly dancer, Mesmera, entered the room. She was amazing; her movements - the way she flicked and rotated her scarved hips seductively, moved her back in serpentine undulations and jingled her fingertips - were a work of art. At one point she came over to teach my friends and me a chest thrust type move that I think could make us all very popular at parties
The Food -
Though I remembered from previous visits the entire experience - seven courses all eaten with fingers, beginning with the waiter drizzling warm water over our hands as we held them over a basin - I had forgotten just how good the food is.
After ordering quite a few cocktails (the most popular with my girlfriends and me was their Champagne with Chambord cocktail), we not only wanted to eat, but needed to before we drowned ourselves in alcohol.
First came bowls of the best lentil soup I've ever tasted: curried, slightly sweet and smoky, with a strong cilantro flavor.
Then a platter of marinated vegetables - pureed eggplant, carrots and tomatoes to be eaten with bread. The eggplant was my favorite of the three vegetables.
Next arrived one of my favorite dishes: the b'stilla. A pie of light and flaky phyllo dough filled with chicken, scrambled eggs, almonds, flavored with spices - one of which is cinnamon. The outer crust is dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon, so that the entire pie is a perfect harmony of savory and sweet flavors mingling together. The first time I had this, I'd never eaten anything quite like it. (I don't have photos of this. We ate it before I could take any.)
With a sweet taste still on my lips, our next course arrived: the brochettes (skewered meats). Our group chose the shrimp brochettes, and I'm glad we did. They were amazing - sweet, moist, slightly spicy and accompanied by a creamy, tomatoey sauce that reminded me of thousand Island dressing.
Next, was our choice of poultry. We chose the chicken with lemons and olives. The chicken was incredibly juicy and tender, falling off the bone, and flavored strongly with the lemons and olives. As full as we were getting, none of us stopped eating this until their was not one bit of meat left; it was too tasty.
By the time the cous cous with vegetables arrived, I was too full. Everyone else ate it though, and couldn't stop raving about how good the cous cous was - so I had a bite. It was really good - moist and flavorful, sweetend by the plump raisins. Cous cous can be a little bland, but this dish wasn't at all.
After this, a fruit and nut platter arrived, followed by sticky honey and powdered sugar covered pastries and warm, sweet spearmint tea. I only drank the tea, and wow! It was so good and soothing; the perfect end to a wonderful evening.
Then came the bill...(below, on the right, is a photo of Todd seeing the total cost of our meal for the first time.)