I roped fellow Biggest Menu-ers KevinEats and HC of LA & OC Foodventures into joining me. It was my first time meeting up with both of them. The restaurant was located on a very quiet street. HC, his friend, and I got there a little early but it was so quiet that we elected to go inside early since there just wasn't anything to walk around to see. Whoa! I'm all for candlelit restaurants but this was a bit extreme. We could barely see inside. It really was that dark.
We were seated near the kitchen, which lessened my enjoyment of the experience as the waiters kept going in and out. HC's friend and I had the bench while the boys sat on little Moroccan poufs. It was so dark that Kevin and I took turns using both candles so give as much light as we could to our dishes.
Mid-way through our meal, the waiter noticed my picture-taking and requested that I not do so. Photos often get uploaded to the internet and the food doesn't look very flattering, he said. Umm, maybe that's because the restaurant was so poorly lit? I told him I liked to document my meals and promised I wouldn't upload them to the internet. So there! Take that Ryan Gosling! Pfft! My photos were alright. Nothing remarkable but decent. But since I promised no photos of the food, you just get a lot of boring description with lackluster commentary.
We ordered a $25 carafe of Red Wine Sangria to share. Hey! It's a picture of the drink, not food, OK? Plus, we got the drink before the waiter told me not to take pictures. So ostensibly, I should've uploaded the food pictures I took before the incident, but no food pictures for you!
We started off with a Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Salad. Tomato was a little mealy, hard, and not sweet. Late fall was not the best time to serve fresh tomatoes.
Next was supposed to be grilled chicken, but we were substituted with grilled shrimp with hummus topped with a tomato and cucumber salad. I liked the shrimp and it ended up being one of the better dishes of the night. Hummus was standard stuff.
Course 3 was pan-roasted striped bass with Chamula sauce. Not sure what Chamula sauce was, Google didn't give me answers, and I couldn't tell you what it tasted like.
Next was supposed to be a shrimp tagine, but ended up being course 5, the chicken bastilla. According to the LA Times' article, this was one of the restaurant's signature dishes, but I found chicken in a filo dough with powdered sugar and cinnamon to be too weird. I like my meat savory, not sweet. A chicken dish that tasted like dessert? Not for me.
Then came the shrimp tagine. Since the restaurant named itself after the Moroccan cooking vessel, I was anticipating the tagine dishes. The shrimp tagine didn't disappoint. Nicely spiced in a light cream harissa sauce with mushrooms and a tiny side of roasted cauliflower. So far, both shrimp dishes were my favorites.
Grilled salmon with honey sauce, prunes, figs, and almonds. I love salmon, but again, I want my meat savory. Too sweet. Fish dessert?
Oven-roasted lamb and lamb chop with lentils, couscous, and eggplant. Pretty good. Normally lamb is too gamey and I only like lamb chops, but I liked this whole dish.
Our meal ended with baklava, a few grapes (on the menu as "fruit plate"), and mint tea. Look at the pretty cups!
The teapot was about a foot above the cups as the waiter elaborately poured the tea. Nice visual.
Some hits and misses on the tasting menu. Not nearly as exotic as I wished for. The plates came out too close together. At times, we had a pile-up with the next course coming out while we were still eating the previous one. As we were seated right next to the kitchen, the waiter could have better gauged when to bring them out. Or maybe he was rushing us out the door? In that case, don't let us make a 9 p.m. reservation if you can't accommodate us. After tax and tip, we paid $60 each for the tasting menu and sangria.
While it was an interesting introduction to Moroccan cuisine, the frugal part of me kept thinking I could've fed a table of my family at a Chinese restaurant instead. Kevin, as was his wont, asked if the chef was there that night. He wasn't. Neither was Ryan Gosling. :( Although when the LA Times' reviewer dined there, apparently Ryan Gosling waited on her. So if you're a big fan, you can camp out in hopes of seeing him.
As my birthday present to myself, this dining experience was just OK. Guess that's why after just OK meals at Uzbekistan and here, I elected for comforting Chinese restaurants like Sunday Bistro - Alhambra and Elite Restaurant (Dim Sum) - Monterey Park.
Where do you go for your birthday and how do you like to celebrate?
2007's birthday eats:
Jazz Cat Cafe - Alhambra (Closed)
Uzbekistan - Los Angeles (Closed)
Perfectly Sweet - Alhambra
Sunday Bistro - Alhambra
Elite Restaurant (Dim Sum) - Monterey Park
Who else ate at Tagine?
The waiter didn't see Kevin Eats taking photos, so visit his blog to see the food pictures.
Tagine was LA-OC Foodie's first experience with Moroccan cuisine as well.
132 N. Robertson Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Monday to Friday 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. lunch
Tuesday to Sunday 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. dinner