Monday, October 24, 2011

(Dining in Morocco: Restaurant Marrakesh)

In 1984, Morocco was added to Epcot's World Showcase. The pavilion is unique among all others due to the participation of the country's government. Morocco is the only country in the World Showcase to be sponsored by a government and not a corporation. So authentic is the design of the pavilion that the King of Morocco sent his royal craftsmen to lay all of the tile work, carvings and paintings.

Upon entering Restaurant Marrakesh, you step into what I imagine would feel like a Sultan's palace. The tile work is extraordinary in the dimly-lit space, and the music of North Africa fills the air. If you visit at the right time, you will be treated to the sultry movements of a belly dancer while you dine. She is beautiful and entertaining!

The restaurant does have a full bar, but we did not try any of the offerings. Apparently, the Marrakesh Express and the Casablanca Sunset are exceptional drinks, and for a small charge you can get them in a souvenir glass!
We opted to eat fairly lightly this time around, and chose to split the Sultan's Sampler Platter as a meal. Grilled brochette of chicken, a beef brewat roll, chicken bastilla and vegetable couscous round out this dish. The couscous was delicious, the chicken was tender and seasoned nicely, and the rest was equally tasty, but very, very different. The beef brewat roll is ground beef with a sweet twist; cinnamon, ginger and coriander pair with onion, parsley and saffron in this interesting eat. The chicken bastilla is another interesting one - this is Morocco's form of chicken pie. What looks like some sort of pastry is actually saffron chicken, stuffing and almonds in a pastry shell. I think that this platter as a whole is a really great choice for someone who wants to be adventurous and try new things, but also for someone who is a bit picky; the chicken and couscous are very safe choices while the remainder of the dish could certainly go either way in terms of taste.

I can't remember exactly why, but we were each gifted with a complementary baklava for dessert. It was delicious - I love baklava because it's that little dose of sweet that you want after a meal, but rich enough that you just need a teeny tiny serving. It was easily the best part of our meal and I was grateful for the gesture.

It sounds like we had a good experience, and we did. But do I like Restaurant Marrakesh? Not really. I can't quite put my finger on it. Disney does such an amazing job of making you feel that you are in North Africa that I feel a bit too far away. I feel terrible because I sort of sound like my mind isn't open enough for this place. I really did enjoy the food, honestly. I just never quite felt comfortable in this restaurant. The belly dancer was amazing and the music was beautiful. The service was attentive and it was evident of the hard work that went into creating the atmosphere. Overall, I am very glad that I tried it, but probably will not be returning. Who knows, maybe it's because I have no desire to travel to Africa. I'm a European kind of girl, which perhaps is why I favor pavilions like France and the UK. Whatever the reason, it certainly isn't for Disney's lack of effort. As always, the details were spot-on and there was nothing at all lacking at this place. Take what you will from my slightly-confused impression of Restaurant Marrakesh. I would love to hear about your experience at this fine dining establishment - tell me, what is it that I am missing?

Happy Dining!

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