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Sep 16, 2001 11:39 AM

Support your local Arab restaraunt (Marrakesh)

  • k

In the wake of the awful events on Tuesday, I have to say I felt a little guilty going out to dinner. But life does have to go on. I hope no one on this board knew anyone involved.

Anyway, we went to Marrakesh (561 Cambridge and 7th in Cambridge) for dinner Friday night. They serve great Moroccan "comfort food" (at least that's how it seems to me). It's the second time we've been there. Moroccan food seems to emphasize sweet/savory combinations, with many of the meat dishes (for example the tagine or stew) combining fruit (prunes, lemons, honey, raisins etc.). The chicken Bastilla, a phyloo-wrapped appetizer, is sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar (!). The couscous is delicious, with a buttery flavor. The honey-flavored tea after dinner is a delightful change. Ask to sit in the back, where you take off your shoes and sit on comfortable couches. Very attentive service.

Oddly, we were the only ones there at first, however 3 other couples had arrived by the time we left. Made me wonder how much their business is down?

They've put up a little American flag outside the front door. I would too, given the reports about attacks on Arab-Americans (and non-Arabs with just dark skin).

Why not show we put the blame for Tuesday where it belongs, and not on our fellow citizens by having dinner at an Arab restaurant this week? Marrakesh, or the nearby Helmand (Afghani) on 1st street are great places to start. There's also that tiny flalafal place on Prospect just off of Mass. Ave. in Cambridge.



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  1. I rather support an american cuisine restaurant.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Patriot Paul

      There's no such thing as "american cuisine" unless you're planning to go out to a nice native american restaurant. Not sure I've seen one in my neighborhood but do post a review if you go!

      Remember that the food we americans eat is a blend of the cuisines of the world, including middle eastern.

      Thanks to kpfoley for posting the original notice.

      1. re: another view

        I couldn't agree more. I'm sorry that "Paul" is so confused. In this time of increased loyalty and patriotism, it's sad to see that there are some who do not realize what being united truly means, or what America truly is.


        1. re: Nick

          Nick, you hit the nail on the head, this guy just does not know what America is all about

      2. re: Patriot Paul

        That is one of the most ignorant statements I have read on this board.

        1. re: maureen

          ...and a valuable reminder of why the rest of us have to work that much harder to reach out.

          If you've missed them, see our "Call to Eat" threads, as linked atop our homepage (in the "What's New" column).

          1. re: Jim Leff

            I am replying to this on Not About Food

        2. re: Patriot Paul

          Paul, I can understand how you feel - it's not that unusual an initial reaction. But hey, let's face it, Americans of Arab descent are - well, they're Americans, just like the rest of us. It is likely that Arab-American lives were lost in the tragedy, don't you think?

          So, I think we can all chow down on tasty hummus and all the rest of Middle Eastern cuisine without any misguided political notions.

        3. i would love to eat at an "arab" restaurant. marrakesh, when i went (maybe mama was sick...) served cold, old food. anyone know of an economical, delicious alternative? thx---daniel k.

          4 Replies
          1. re: daniel

            I like the Helmand in Cambridge. It's one of my favorite restaurants. Get the pumpkin! Address and info below.


            1. re: daniel

              I second Helmand, and would also suggest Baraka Cafe at 80 1/2 Pearl Street Cambridge. Tiny place, nice atmosphere, leisurely service, perfect lemonade and fantastic Tunisian food.

              1. re: ak

                Just a quick chime-in (to the thread, not specifically to you, AK!): I tried to put forth this call of support as an official urging, but found that it was badly dividing the community, flaring tempers, really tearing up our good vibes.

                So--by all means!--discuss, tout, and analyze good mid-eastern (and other Moslem) eateries as much as you'd like...but in order to maintain peace here on the site (and not offend those who find it offensive) can I ask, in the spirit of truce and compromise, to keep the discussion more specifically chowish, rather than political?


                1. re: Jim Leff

                  No offense taken on my part, Jim. All politics aside, Baraka Cafe has mind-bendingly delicious food, period. The best I've had in this area in a long time. Everyone should eat there because it will make their stomachs happy!

            2. I went to Marrakesh with friends at the end of August. The place was empty. They sat us in front -- not the back, which is more Morroccan -- and only gave us the prix fixe menu -- a bunch of dishes for a lot of dollars. Since they took so long to come by after the seated us, and I didn't want to spend (or eat) so much, I snooped around and found a regular menu!! I was being scammed! I was insulted, but stayed anyway after asking to be seated in the back and given regular menus. The regular menus were only handed over reluctantly, and the Moroccan music was blasted so loud that I thought they were trying to torture us. Not a great way to welcome new customers, or to make them feel welcome to return.

              The food almost made up for it. The tagine of chicken would have been wonderful if it hadn't been reheated for the umpteenth time. The flavors were great -- prunes, preserved lemon -- but it was dried out like a desert tent. The lamb couscous was dry, dry, dry, with almost no sauce. I had to beg for harissa (the Moroccan hot pepper paste), and was served what looked like Crystal Hot Sauce in a dish.

              I'm not sure I'd go back. I would certainly look through the window first to make sure I wasn't alone in there. With the little business they were doing on a Friday night, with the dried out and reheated food, and with the unwelcoming, manipulative service, I can't imagine that they'll be open long....