Marrakech

We stumble upon a dependable new neighbourhood eatery Discuss this article

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It’s normal for newcomers to the Gulf to go through something of an adjustment period. And getting a grasp of the region’s dining culture is among the first challenges one faces.

Unlike much of the world, in the GCC it is perfectly common to meet a friend at a restaurant in a shopping mall. And perhaps more importantly, not uncommon to have a rather satisfying meal there.

Marrakech is a prime example. Although technically under the auspices of Lagoona Mall, its location on the courtyard of a residential building makes it feel more like a regular hangout.

One step into the restaurant and we feel transported to Morocco. From ceiling to floor, Marrakech is an explosion of colour. The wooden tables and chairs are tightly packed in, their multi-hued geometric designs creating an illusionary maze. Even the walls are covered in geometric shapes painted with cool pastels.

A few patrons are drinking tea while smoking shisha, filling the room with a light mist. It would be a perfectly comfortable setting if the temperature wasn’t set at refrigerator levels, but as we wrap ourselves to stay warm, the manager comes over to check in and, well, break the ice. We notice he does the same with every table, offering the sort of relaxed service that is the hallmark of a successful neighbourhood eatery.

While waiting for our starters, a basket of Moroccan bread is served with olives and a harissa paste. The bread is warm, slightly sweet and quite addictive, such that we know we’ve had one too many by the time our starters arrive. A tip: just get the Marrakech Special and you’ll have plenty to share. The tangy cold vegetables are marinated in olive oil and spices, a refreshing way to prepare the palate for the main act.

We opt for lamb tagine, vegetable stew and couscous – as traditional as it comes. The figs in the lamb dish sweeten it considerably, creating a syrupy sauce that goes well with the steamed grains of couscous. If we had to be nitpicky, the lamb could be more tender and less oily, yet it’s the oily bits that amp up the flavour.

The vegetable stew cuts through some of this richness and is a welcome addition to the spread, though it is quite bland on its own, and probably wouldn’t win over the vegetarian in your party.

A Moroccan tea is the way to end this all. The minty, ultra-sweet drink in dainty cups help digest the meal and take the place of dessert. Even after we leave, we can’t exactly put our fingers on a particular element that makes Marrakech stand out.

We conclude that’s because it’s an all-rounder, a dependable spot where the food is tasty and conversation flows easily… shopping mall or otherwise.

The bill (for two)
1 x Marrakech Special QR40
1 x oriental mezze QR55
1 x vegetable tagine QR55
1 x lamb tagine with figs QR85
1 x vegetable couscous QR60
1 x couscous with onions QR25
2 x small water QR16
1 x banana juice QR20
1 x hot chocolate QR15
1 x Moroccan tea QR22
Total QR393

By Time Out Doha staff
Time Out Doha,

Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.

Details

  • Location: Lagoona Mall, West Bay, Doha
  • Tel: 3382 8059
  • Travel: Zig Zag Towers
  • Cuisine: Moroccan
  • Times: Open daily 10am-2am

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