For the final night of our trip to Morocco, my girlfriend and I got some serious pampering at Marrakech’s five-star hotel La Maison Arabe, with an unbelievable spa (called “hammam” in Islamic parlance) and massage experience. I was enamored with the hotel’s magnificent decors everywhere and decided in the last minute to have dinner at the traditional Moroccan restaurant inside instead of at another restaurant in Marrakech. The gorgeous dining room with red chairs everywhere and a couple of musicians playing in the center convinced enough to make this last-minute change to our itinerary. My girlfriend and I have had some really tasty Moroccan food up to the final stop in Marrakech, so we were definitely excited to see how this restaurant elevates the country’s cuisine in pleasantly surprising direction. Unfortunately, the meal fell short of expectations as it progressed over time.
The food at La Maison Arabe seems to stick closer to traditional Moroccan taste, with some modern twists here and there. The beginning of the meal couldn’t have gone better. My girlfriend and I thoroughly enjoyed the assortment of salads that you can add on top of the breads. The mini pastillas (classic Moroccan savory pies that are especially popular in the city of Fez) also came really wonderful in the balance of flavor, and we finished all three (each coming with chicken and almonds, seasonable vegetables and seafood) in no time. Things quickly went south on the main dishes, however. We both ordered tagine dishes, on with beef with dried oranges on top, and another with lamb accompanied by figs, dates and apricots. The texture of both meats was surprisingly off, and the vegetables and fruits that accompanied them didn’t quite gel together. I honestly don’t know what happened but even the tagine dishes that I’ve had at some random joints off the highway during our travel tasted more delicious in their simplicity. Our disappointment wasn’t mitigated much by an average peach mille feuille.
I had no problem getting the same day reservations about 2 hours before, and the restaurant was pretty empty when we showed up, although it started to fill over time. There are Moroccan wine selections that you can complement your meal for, but again our experience with Moroccan wine has been underwhelming. What particularly struck us was the level of service; for a five-star hotel, it was a bit hard to believe that the service staff didn’t check in on us whenever we emptied the dishes and the overall service was very slow (later, our server came to apologize). I didn’t know what to make of our dinner experience at La Maison Arabe because until the meal everything was so magical in this hotel. Perhaps an off day? Either way, I do encourage everyone who visits Morocco to check out the beautiful hotel itself.
- Creativity: 7.5/10
- Execution: 7.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 7.5/10
- Texture: 7.0/10
Address: 1, Derb Assehbé, Bab Doukkala, Medina, Marrakech, Morocco
Telephone: +212 5 24 38 70 10