Friday, April 22, 2011

Tourist trapped at Café Argana

Every major destination have their tourist traps, even Marrakech. Some of the restaurants around Djemaa el Fna offer great views to the square, but the food is over priced and mediochre. One of these are Café Argana. The four B score is due to location and service, but in spite of the rating Café Argana is definitely not a place to dine. It is a serious tourist trap.

Rating Café Argana: BBBB (4,01 points)
  • Location: BBBBB
  • Service: BBBB+
  • Interior & atmosphere: BBB+
  • Food: BBB
The facade of the Café Argana looked impressive
Café Argana is located on the Djemaa el Fna square, the very heart of Marrakech. It is a busy market place during day, but turns into a giant food market at dawn.

We decided to go down and look at the giant food fair one of the first nights of our stay. My fellow travelers were skeptic to enjoy the food served here, and we decided to have a meal and a view to the food market from one of the nearby restaurants.

The Café Argana looked impressive with its ornate decorations and terraces facing what happened on the square. We looked at the menu and were tempted.
Café Argana - interior
The terrace upstairs were filled to capacity with tourists enjoying the view to the food market.

We were seated by a table a few rows from the front tables and with a decent view to what went on on the square.

We were seated comfortably, but the proprietors had decided to seat as many as possible on the terrace, and there were little space to the other guests.

The staff at Café Argana offered decent service. We were given a multilingual menu promptly. Dishes were a mix of French and Moroccan cuisine, and I decided to order the chicken tagine with lemon confit. This dish id definitely one of my favourites of the Moroccan cuisine.

We did not have to wait long to be served, and my brightly coloured glazed terracotta tagine arrived with what I presumed would be a delicious treat.

Chicken tagine with lemon confit
This was not the case - sadly!

It looked delicious. A decent sized chicken breast and thigh with a large slice of lemon confit immersed in a broth with large green olives.

The meat was deliciously tender having been baked in the piping hot tagine. I had tasted this dish before and could not wait to enjoy a well balanced extraordinarily seasoned meal.

I found the lemon confit surprisingly bitter. The sauce was very salt, and these conflicting aromas made this tagine very different to many others I had tasted in Morocco.

Usually tagines are dishes where  sweet, sour and salted ingredients are used cleverly to create the most delicate flavours. The tagine at Café Argana was definitely not one of those. The good thing was that the food was inexpensive, to us, that is. I am convinced that we paid much for our food after Moroccan standards.

To sum this up. The BBBB-rating is based on location, and service, and the great view to the square. You may have more luck with some of the other dishes, but you should be cautious ordering Moroccan food here. If you want a great tagine try the Chez Bahia just a short walk from the square.

Café Argana
Jaleema El Fna 1
, Marrakech, Marokko 
Phone: +212 24445350 ‎

Vis Marrakech on Enjoy Food & Travel 2010-2011 i et større kart

More Moroccan stories on Enjoy Food & Travel 

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Seafood at Restaurant le Vismet, Brussels

    Vis Brussels on Enjoy Food & Travel 2006-2010 i et større kart

    The area around Place Saint-Catherine in Brussels is the recommended area to enjoy fresh seafood in the Belgian capital. Here you will find restaurants adjusted to most budgets. The latest seafood meal we had here was at Restaurant le Vismet. Great location, nice interior, decent service, but what we ate was a little bland and boring.

    Rating Restaurant le Vismet: BBBB (3,85 points)

    • Area: BBBB+
    • Interior and atmosphere: BBBB
    • Service: BBB+
    • Food: BBB+
    Église Saint-Catherine as seen from the square
    Restaurant le Vismet is located at Place Saint-Catherine or Sint- Katelijneplein, as every space and spot in Brussels has a Flemish and a French name.

    This picturesque square is just a short walk away from Grand Place, the beating heart of the European capital.

    I have had many a decent seafood experience here during my two decades visiting Brussels, and I try to explore at least one new restaurant every time I'm back.

    It was my good friend Ketil that had heard favourable reviews of Restaurant le Vismet, and we decided to try it.

    We arrived too late for lunch, and after a short negotiation the kitchen at Restaurant le Vismet decided that we could order before it closed for more serving before dinner.
    Stylish interior at Restaurant le Vismet
    I liked the interior at the Restaurant le Vismet, contemporary, with stylish tables set for elegant lunch.

    There were, in my opinion, a few tables too many, in the room, as guests would, if the restaurant would be fully booked, be seated uncomfortably close to other parties.

    I was determined to choose a seafood dish. I chose the seafood risotto, and a glass of white wine to follow.

    Seafood risotto à la Restaurant le Vismet
    The risotto was presented in a white china deep plate, sprinkled with fresh parsley.

    When tucking into the dish, I immediately felt at the arborio rice had been prepared to perfection, you could chew every grain. Sadly the rest of the experience ended there.

    Sadly there were no more interesting  culinary experiences to be reported from here.  The  taste of the risotto was quite flat, with no contrasting flavours, and no seasoning had been used except the salt derived from the stock. It is a good idea to use a little white wine or lemon juice to add a little acidity.

    What was supposed to be an interesting culinary experience ended up being the opposite. Very boring! The good thing was that the food did not cost an arm or a leg, so you could leave the meal behind you quickly.

    It is all a pity really, as I liked the atmosphere at Restaurant le Vismet, but judging from the seafood risotto, I would certainly look for another a place to eat seafood at Place Saint-Cathérine. 


    Restaurant le Vismet
    Sint-Katelijneplein 23
    1000 Brussel, België
    Phone: 02 218 85 45

    More risottos on Enjoy Food & Travel 

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    Tandoori Curry Corner - top indian at budget price

    Vis UPDATED: Oslo on Enjoy Food & Travel March 2011 i et større kart

    Oslo is one of the most expensive places to dine in a restaurant, according to statistics. I have serious doubts, but if you are a guest in the Norwegian capital and determined to have a budget meal, I strongly recommend Tandoori Curry Corner. Here you get a good Indian / Pakistani meal for around €10.  

    Rating Tandoori Curry Corner: BBBB+ (4,40 points)
    • Location: BBBB+
    • Service: BBBBB
    • Interior & atmosphere: BBB+
    • Food: BBBBB-
    • Beverage: N/A
    Photo: Grønland area by GAD 
    Tandoori Curry Corner is located in the Grønland area of Oslo, with a predominantly non-European population.

    Being literally on a corner, you may follow a vibrant city life with inhabitants from Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Tandoori Curry Corner is just a 5 minute walk away from Oslo Central Station.

    You will not be admiring an ornate Indian interior at Tandoori Curry Corner. You sit  comfortably on metal chairs by simple tables. The interior is slightly shabby, but well cleaned.  
    Tandoori Curry Corner is a family run restaurant. You get an informal, nice contact with those behind the corner taking your order. There were very few people when we arrived and we had a smalltalk with the proprietor. 
    Photo: Chicken Tikka Masala by Kelly Sue
    The menu at Tandoori Curry Corner is predominantly Indian food but you may also choose hamburgers or kebabs. You get salad and Naan bread with all Indian dishes.

    I  chose a Chicken Tikka Masala priced at NO 90 (€11). The chicken was served in a little bowl, and you got a large plate with rice and salad and a large homemade Naan bread.

    The latter was baked as you sat there, and is probably one of the best I have ever eaten in an Indian restaurant.

    I was served 5 bites of bone free chicken immersed in a brightly coloured, smooth sauce with a rich aromatic flavour. Be not afraid to visit Tandoori Curry Corner if you do not like hot food. Here you get Indian food adjusted to Northern European tastes. 
    Portion was rather moderate in size, but with the rice, salad and Naan it was more than enough as a good meal. Meat was deliciously tender and a strong green chili puré tickled your pallet.

    I do recommend Tandoori Curry Corner for budget travelers. Dishes prices of €10 or less are hard to find and it tastes great. The fact that they did not serve neither beer or wine did not matter, as you can just turn the corner for a drink. We did!   
    Tandoori Curry Corner

    Grønland 22
    0188 Oslo
    22 17 99 06 
    More Indian food at Enjoy Food & Travel