Neighborhood: Dupont Circle
As yet another friend on her way out of town, Official Friend of DCWD Olive decided we needed to have one last meal for the blog. With a Groupon to Marrakesh Palace, she and I went with two of her friends to the Dupont Circle restaurant.
Marrakesh Palace is expansive, more than you would expect from its humble exterior. The dining area is broken into a couple parts. The entrance and the first section is like something out of Raiders of the Lost Ark, orange walls with lots of paraphernalia like large urns, palm fronds, and a fountain. The feeling is warm, with lots of yellow and orange and red, and extends out to some limited outdoor seating (though with only two tables out there, the question you have to ask is why bother?).
The second section is best described as crazy authentic, a backroom with animal-print furniture couches around the wall, producing a number of half-booths. Blue skylights combine with lighting that looks like torches to provide some dim light to the room. The walls and floor are all tiled, the floor in plain white covered by rugs while the walls have Moorish-style patterns that you would assume are common in the Maghreb. All this while Middle Eastern pop plays in the background.
I guess everything is about managing expectations. I didn't think it was going to be anything mind-blowing, but still. With a Casablanca beer in hand (unfortunately, just a pretty conventional lager), I tried to order a couple small plates to get an idea of how things were... but they were out of two dishes that I went for. Not an auspicious start.
I eventually settled on two dishes: a chicken pastry of baked filo, chicken, almond, and cinnamon sugar, and some merguez, lamb sausage on a bed of tomatoes, lettuce, onions, lemon vinaigrette. I had high hopes for the chicken pastry, but it was pretty standard, and the merguez was disappointing with only three small pieces.
What I will say was that one of the nice dishes that came out was one of our companion's lamb barkouk tagine, braised lamb with sweet prunes, almonds, and sesame seeds. It was a nice combination of savory and sweet.
I'm not too keen myself on places that try to go way authentic to the point of becoming kitschy. And while there were some good things from the kitchen, there were also some pretty disappointing dishes. Without a coupon, I probably won't go back.
Food Rating: ** (out of 5)
Date Rating: 2.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code: Casual
Bar Rating: N/A
Cost: $$ (out of 5) ($25-$50 for two)
Pairing: I love used bookstores, and there are a bunch of them near there, but I'll pick one for this review: Books for America Used Bookstore, on 22nd St south of P St.