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Dear all,

I love Moroccan cuisine, but I've yet to find the ideal Moroccan restaurant in this city, one that would serve authentic food at reasonable prices and in an unpretentious atmosphere.

L'Oriental -- formerly on rue des Martyrs in the 18th, now on avenue Trudaine in the 9th -- is no good imho (bland dishes, clueless service) and I've been told that La Mansouria has gone downhill so steeply it is now practically underground.

A bit of online research has turned up such suggestions as L'Atlas, Chez Omar, le 404, and the recently opened Gourbi Palace, but I'm wondering if the first two still live up to their reputation, and whether the latter two aren't too branché for their own good.

Any thoughts or recommendations to share? (And I wouldn't mind a super basic hole-in-the-wall, unencumbered by the obligatory Arabian Nights paraphernalia.)

Many thanks!

Clotilde.

PS: I've searched the forums and couldn't find a recent discussion on the subject, but feel free to point me to it if there is one.

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I've heard good things about Le Souk, rue Keller near Bastille, but haven't made it there yet. Also Au P'tit Caouha (sp?), around the corner on Taillanders, with a branch somewhere in the 13th.

I ate in Chez Omar about a year ago and wasn't amazed by the food, though the atmosphere was great.

Shira

Paris

lespetitpois.blogspot.com

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L'Oriental -- formerly on rue des Martyrs in the 18th, now on avenue Trudaine in the 9th -- is no good imho (bland dishes, clueless service) and I've been told that La Mansouria has gone downhill so steeply it is now practically underground.

A bit of online research has turned up such suggestions as L'Atlas, Chez Omar, ....

Not just your humble opinion, Clotilde, mine too last week. I would say of the three I've quoted above, only L'Atlas is still good. Wally the Saharian is OK for mechoui but only if you like "dry couscous" which I think takes 80% of the fun away.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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I hadn't mentioned Wally le Saharien in my initial post because I was under the impression that it was Algerian (from Kabylia, more specifically), but I may be wrong.

In any case, I had dinner there a little over a year ago and the food was okay, but I wouldn't rush back: the atmosphere was sinister that night, and the service was very slow even though there were just two tables in addition to ours. Also, they only offer a fixed four-course 40+ menu (no choices) at dinner, something they fail to mention when you call to reserve, and this ended up being more food than we would have ordered if we had had a choice.

Clotilde.

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Any thoughts or recommendations to share? (And I wouldn't mind a super basic hole-in-the-wall, unencumbered by the obligatory Arabian Nights paraphernalia.)

Let me caution all to never darken the door of the Maison de Charly where my charming, warm, loving wife Colette was treated so rudely we walked out. Before we hear the French rudeness knee-jerk responses; let me be clear that in 50 years in Paris I've been treated rudely only three times; once by a Moroccan, once by a Pole and once by an Italian.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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A bit of online research has turned up such suggestions as L'Atlas, Chez Omar, le 404, and the recently opened Gourbi Palace, but I'm wondering if the first two still live up to their reputation, and whether the latter two aren't too branché for their own good.

I have fond memories of a very delicious night at a Moroccan restaurant near the Bastille I ate at about three year ago, but I cannot find it again. I think I read about it in a Virgin guide book of all things. I just remember a very clandestine entrance (perhaps why I am having trouble finding it again).

I've only had 3 other moroccan eats in Paris. Chez Omar was dissapointing, dry couscous and very little flavor. The food at 404 was more interesting and better tasting than Chez Omar, but I wouldn't go back. Better than both was the couscous I had in the Enfant Rouge market for a quarter of the price and outdoor seating in the market, but I am pretty sure they microwave the food!!

I can't wait to see a great find because I am longing for it too!!

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I've heard good things about Le Souk, rue Keller near Bastille, but haven't made it there yet. Also Au P'tit Caouha (sp?), around the corner on Taillanders, with a branch somewhere in the 13th.

I ate in Chez Omar about a year ago and wasn't amazed by the food, though the atmosphere was great.

Shira, I think you just made my day! I think this is the place ... I remember the tagine agneau with almonds and prunes being especially delicious. Oooh, I hope it is as good as I remember. And to make it there soon and report back.

ps. they have a website and an epicerie in front.

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I liked 404 a lot. I liked that they took the extra effort to seperate each of the components of the couscous. Your table starts to look like a yard sale (a flea market maybe a better French simile), but being able to compose the marinated chickpeas, the chutney and the hot sauce into the formula you want was choice. The space at 404 is really sexy, lots of candles, communal tables, open kitchen. They have a neat little bar next door and a few doors down is a tea and massage shop. I know it sounds like something from the Los Angeles valley, but this one is cute with a really well designed space.

"When planning big social gatherings at our home, I wait until the last minute to tell my wife. I figure she is going to worry either way, so I let her worry for two days rather than two weeks."
-EW
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I can’t say that I have any new suggestions to add but would be thrilled to try a new address. I’ve been to most of the places mentioned but for me the best couscous I’ve had in Paris was at my friend’s grandmother’s house and the second best was probably at John T’s. :smile:

When the weather gets nice, the terraces along the blvd de Belleville and Menillmontant are jam packed on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, does any one know if any of these restaurants and if they are worth trying?

www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

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On boulevard de Belleville and Ménilmontant, it will be Jewish Tunisian-style couscous. Simple but good, and plentiful.

Likewise, restaurants around the Maghrebi-Jewish area of rue Richer-rue du Faubourg-Montmartre (Folies-Bergère) will serve rich and copious, though not always very refined, Tunisian-style couscous, either with the usual meat and vegetable stew and grilled meats, or, more interestingly, with various t'fina — slow-cooked dishes usually prepared on the night before the Shabbat and stewed overnight.

Tfina pkaila (melted spinach, white beans, beef shin and lots of oil), tfina arissa (cow's foot, white beans and wheat kernels), loubia (white bean and tomato stew), etc., all very good with a side dish of steamed couscous.

My favorite couscous places are also the simplest; unfortunately the best of all (La Mitidja, a Kabylian joint on rue Lacépède) is now closed, but Chez Hamadi on rue Boutebrie (Tunisian couscous, country-style) is still around.

La Mansouria has really gone downhill; like Braden, I like Le 404 (Algero-Moroccan) but I haven't been there lately (and yes — next door Andy Wahloo is one of the loveliest bars on the Right Bank), and Smaïn's Le Pied de Chameau is now closed.

I am not impressed by Moroccan restaurants in Paris; but I still like L'Atlas, which serves fabulous steamed fine-grain couscous.

To be checked: Ziryab, on the top floor of L'Institut du monde arabe. Has anyone been there?

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I am not impressed by Moroccan restaurants in Paris; but I still like L'Atlas, which serves fabulous steamed fine-grain couscous.

To be checked: Ziryab, on the top floor of L'Institut du monde arabe. Has anyone been there?

As usual Ptipois you're giving an excellent overview of maroccan restaurants in Paris.I agree with you that most of them unfortunatly are mediocre .

I had dinner at Ziryab a few years ago.The view is wonderful but the food was institutional.

When it comes to middleastern cuisine the best choices are lebanese restaurants,

such as NOura for instance.

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My favorite couscous places are also the simplest; unfortunately the best of all (La Mitidja, a Kabylian joint on rue Lacépède) is now closed...

:sad: I'd read previous praise for La Mitidja, mentally noted that we "really should" go there, but we hadn't done it. There's a lesson to be learned here.

eGullet member #80.

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I'm reluctant to mention La Table de Fes on rue Saint Beuve in the 6th because the friends I took there last week were terribly offended by the rather strange personality of the patronne and only server, who has run this place for many years and has perhaps become a bit odd. There were few other diners the night we were there but I can't say whether these facts are related.

One of my companions ordered the "oriental salad" which came with the ingredients not chopped into small pieces. When she mentioned that it wasn't what she expected of oriental salad, the patronne took offense and lectured her, saying there were different versions and this was the one her Moroccan father-in-law taught her. When another guest thought of ordering both the bistilla and a salad, Madame brusquely told him he couldn't have both as that would not allow the full enjoyment of the bistilla. So fair warning is hereby given.

That said, the quality of the food is unchanged and excellent over the 15 years we've been coming here. The tagines of lamb with prunes and chicken with lemons and olives were flavorful, the couscous perfectly separated andthe broth rich and tasty. The bastilla was delicious. We didn't linger for dessert or coffee. The tagines were 30 Euros each.

Last year I tried Chez Omar and was disappointed. The food was dull and lacked flavor, and now that I recall it, the service was rather rude. We plan to try 404 next time, but I suspect it may be more hype than quality from reports I've heard.

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The lady at La Table de Fès is quite a character, she already was years ago when I was there for the last time, and I can see she's still in good shape. Now she perhaps could have said it more nicely, but she really had a point in insisting on her family recipe, and on the fact that bstella is always served on its own — no salad no nothing — because it is a complex, multilayered dish that should suffer no interference. She was only showing due respect to her bstella, all the more since, as I hear, hers is a good one.

That kind of interaction is to be expected when you want traditional Moroccan cooking in its motherly, almost tyrannical, aspect. On the other hand, you're concerned that Le 404 would be too hyped. To tell the truth, I do not know if it is hyped, because the food is good (not great), though served more impersonally, without much regard to tradition. There is no chance that you will get bugged by the waiter because you're ordering a salad with your briwat or even Coke with your bstella. So sometimes it is not easy to know what people really expect when they want Moroccan cooking.

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Are Oum el Banine and Essaouira, both in the 16th, still open? Used to be quite good maroccan places...

I remember one very bland and watery couscous at Oum-el-Banine, and I've never been to Essaouira-in-the-Seizième. My experiences with couscous places in 16e and 17e, including the dreadful Timgad, have all been very poor. But maybe Oum-el-Banine deserves a second visit and Essaouira a first one?

Anyway, couscous is a popular dish — cheap joints rule!

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I’ve been to most of the places mentioned but for me the best couscous I’ve had in Paris was at my friend’s grandmother’s house and the second best was probably at John T’s.

With all due respect to everyone above, every place in Paris I've been to fails either the "can we do it as well or better" test, whether it's couscous (me) or tagines (Colette). Pastilla/b'steeya/bstella/bistilla/bastaila, now that's another matter.

As for Le Zouave's query on Oum-el-Banine, I dunno if it's still open, but after one meal, I too have never been back.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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I’ve been to most of the places mentioned but for me the best couscous I’ve had in Paris was at my friend’s grandmother’s house and the second best was probably at John T’s.

With all due respect to everyone above, every place in Paris I've been to fails either the "can we do it as well or better" test, whether it's couscous (me) or tagines (Colette). Pastilla/b'steeya/bstella/bistilla/bastaila, now that's another matter.

Well, John, the votes are in. Name the date and time. We'll bring the bistilla. :wink:

Edited by Poppy Quince (log)
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