Our colourful mosaic table is covered with small dishes. We’re eating something called an Agadir Feast, a ten-dollar add-on to any main here at Moroccan Feast. The experience of grazing across this spread makes me wonder why Moroccan cuisine isn’t more popular in Sydney? It's as climate and flavour appropriate as Lebanese and Turkish, which have both taken off here. Crunchy chickpea salad speaks to Australian nostalgia and memory, if you grew up on barbeques and cans of four-bean mix. There’s an earthy carrot salad, and a light, bright lentil salad with parsley, coriander, shallot and lime.
It’s the kind of food that’s made for leisurely meals with family and friends. We punctuate our plentiful dips, salads and bread with a few entrees.
Rolled Eggplant ($18) takes beef mince stuffed charred eggplant slices rich with ras el hanout (this spice blend says Morocco, like garam masala says India) and presents them with lashings of tahini.
Grazing across these dishes screams Australian summer to me – and what could be more Australian than Hummus and Felafel ($15) smeared onto slices of house-baked white bread? The bright green, fluffy felafel go very nicely with Fez Mathbua, which is new to me. It's a bright red dip made from tomato, capsicum and chilli.
There’s also a red cabbage and coriander salad that needed seasoning, but with salt and white pepper sitting right on the table in terracotta serving bowls, who could complain?
Main courses here are all served in tajines, the conical clay cooking vessels most people associate with traditional Moroccan cuisine. The shape of them keeps the contents nice and moist, with steam rising into the pointed top, then condensing and dripping down the sides into the contents within.
Business Manager Shay Dahan, who himself has worked in kitchens in Israel, flew his grandmother over to teach the Moroccan Feast chefs the same dishes she taught him to cook as a child.
If you want an accessible place to begin, Lamb Chops ($30) presents tender lamb cutlets with a rich and fruity blend of dates, apricots, sultanas and quills of cinnamon under a handful of flaked almonds. The tender lamb falls off the bone, and the rich gravy has the gentle sweetness in balance. You'll like it if you grew up on apricot chicken (a dish which owes a lot to Moroccan cuisine).
Perfectly cooked chickpeas and the rich, lightly spicy gravy are my highlights in the Moroccan Fish Tajine ($28) that is presented on fluffy cous cous. The barramundi is cooked in a mix of paprika, turmeric, coriander and enough chilli to make it lively without being hot – for everything else there’s harissa. If you prefer meatballs to stew, try Mafroom ($27). This gentlle dish sandwiches slices of (super hot) potato between lean, seasoned meatballs, then crumbs the lot before slow cooking it in tomato sauce.
With our bellies well sated we sit back and take in the shapes and silhouettes from the room’s Moroccan influenced décor to an upbeat soundtrack of contemporary Israeli music.
Our waiter, Asaf, prepares our Moroccan mint tea – another inclusion with the Agadir Feast – and presents it with Sfenj (normally $10), Moroccan doughnuts dusted with icing sugar.
Even if you throw in a pair of well-made Negroni ($16/each) and a couple of inexpensive, inoffensive glasses of wine, it would be easy to construct an abundant, well-balanced meal for two here for fewer than a hundred bucks.
127 Avoca Street, Randwick
Ph: (02) 9399 9882