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Aug 24, 2009 03:43 PM

Any favorite places for a tagine?

Anyone know where is the best place to replicate this in NY? I am probably going to check out Tangine Tasting Gallery tonight to satisfy this crave.. I went there once a year ago and it missed.. the lemons lacked flavor or they didn't put enough in.. so the dish missed.. but I am willing to try again unless someone else knows the secret place

I've tried at other places that have missed the mark by much more.. Le'Orange Bleue and Le Gamin I found ot be more style than substance (though it was 1-2 years since I have eaten there)... I had very high hopes for Barbes in Murray Hill, but it also fell flat.

I'm just looking for the classic chicken tagine.. but one that knocks your socks off...

One of my favorite meals ever.. and I do mean ever, was a finger-licking good tagine I had in a small road-side diner near Ourzazate ("Wa za za" or something like that) while on a trip in Morocco. I wasn't hungry and inhaled it.. I should have ordered a second. It was a classic chicken tangine.. clay pot.. olives..roasted potatoes, preserved lemon (although I think the one I got came with grapefruit, I don't remember exactly).. perfectly cooked local chicken... wow I just dug up a photo I took of the menu.. Riad Maktoub Ait Ben Haddou is the name...

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  1. shanshan, your tagine cred far outstrips mine. One might say I don't know a tagine from my elbow. But you didn't mention Cafe Mogador in your list. It's on St. Marks. I've never been to Morocco, and I don't believe I've ever had a truly authentic one. But you may want to check out Mogador just so you can say you've tried it. All I know is that I've enjoyed it when I've had it there.

    6 Replies
    1. re: egit

      Thanks, will check out Mogador. Also going to check out Zerza in East Village which opened a few months ago (I think) and seems to favorable reviews generally. Probably going to check out Zerza first.

      I am no tagine expert. And every tagine is different. I just had one that knocked my socks off. Fall-off bone chicken (but a local chicken, not a Purdue chicken designed to fall off bone).. meat infused with the flavor of the lemon and olives.. perfectly cooked potatoes. Just a fond memory.... there also plenty of blah tagines in Morocco. Luckily I had a local guide who showed me around the country.. and he took me to really good spots most of hte time.. some other tourists I bumped into weren't so lucky.. eating bad tagines all the time I can see being a little miserable.. (the alternatives being couscous or omelettes... omelettes were big lunch food..)

      1. re: shanshan

        Also had a great visit and good eats in Ouarzazate, which was one of my favorite spots in Morocco. Have looked for good Moroccan food in NYC and have really not found much.

        I thought Zerza was OK, but not special enough to try a second time. Will be interested in your thoughts. I've been to Cafe Epices on the UWS a few times, but can't remember if I've tried the tagine there. The brik and bastilla are usually pretty good. Its a nice spot and would probably be worth checking out. Am interested in the "unique" description of TTG and will add it to my list to try. Thanks for the tip.

        My default is to make my own tagine, which I've had pretty good luck with if you have the time. Its actually pretty easy.

        1. re: Almondine

          I was only short time there so can't comment a whole lot on Ourzazate.. though I missed a return flight and ended up "hitchhiking" on a commuter plane to Paris which was a disaster on many many levels. Fun story I guess.

          I attached the photos of the menu/tagine I got there. I can still remember it.

          Its a shame one must make their own tagine given how easy it is! I don't cook so often and so prefer not to go this route just yet..

          is there way to private message re TTG? Haven't been to Zerza yet so can't say which is better yet, but it wasn't bad. I had plenty of so-so tagine in Morocco when I was there.

          1. re: Almondine

            Went to Zerza today. Like you thought it was ok and not worth at all a second trip. bad signs were to be had when waitress said fish tagine was much better than the chicken, and when I paid $2 for side of bread I received a basket of hot pita vs. the round ?semolina? loaves you see commonly in moroccan restaurants.. This chicken tangine was made in a slightly different style than ones I have previously had.. same lemon/olive/potato combo, but this had a huge chicken leg that was already rubbed with a lot of spice, with very sparing additions of potato plus a very small preserved lemon wedge. So Chicken was spiced/well cooked.. but not the same flavor of tagines I had gotten in Morocco. I have had no prior experience with fish tagine but I thought their fish tagine was only ok and and preferred the chicken.

            I have noticed some quirks with tagines in NY vs. in Morrocco.. the size/amount of lemon/potatoes/olives is less here than in Morocco. also the way the dishes are stacked in the tagine are different, which makes me wonder if there is an art to how the lemon/potatoes etc. should be placed vs. the chicken in making a more flavorful tagine.

            I think the next time I get a tagine from the TTG I will just ask for a lot more olives/lemon plus the addition of potatoes.

            1. re: shanshan

              Thanks for reporting back. I think you should give Cafe Epices a try.

              103 W 70th St, New York, NY 10023

          2. re: shanshan

            Can't vouch for the tagine but my go to place for bastilla is also Mogador. Mrs. GG's favorite.

        2. Went to Tagine Tasting Gallery... it was fine... missed the punch I was looking for. chicken didn't get infused with all the flavor for whatever reason.. even though it was fall off the bone and everything seemed to look a piece of chicken with the lemon and an olive and you can get there I guess... Lamb with prunes same thing.. prunes/almonds didn't penetrate into the lamb..

          Definitely a unique place TTG is.. if anyone has been there they will know what I mean..

          3 Replies
          1. re: shanshan

            have u tried la maison du couscous? theyre ok. its all the way down in bay ridge. they had a slew of good reviews a few years back and i think they raised prices and cut portions... but maybe still worth checking out?

            1. re: shanshan

              Slightly off topic but they do serve some appealing Moroccan-style dishes at Marseille on 9th Avenue. Probably the closest thing I've found in Manhattan in recent months.

              1. re: burton

                My husband and I enjoyed Marseille several weeks ago. The Lamb CousCous was wonderful.

            2. I would recommend Nomad in the East Village. I think they are Algerian but I am not enough of an expert to differentiate Algerian food from Moroccan. DO NOT SKIP DESSERT if you go. Definitely the best part of the meal. Service is spotty though, but very friendly.

              78 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003

              1. Has nobody mentioned Kiosk on 116th St? It's a friendly, cozy owner-operated restaurant serving authentic Moroccan dishes in an incredibly welcoming atmosphere. The owner could not be nicer and the food is homey.

                9 Replies
                1. re: gutsofsteel

                  I've been curious about this place. What do you recommend?

                  1. re: gloriousfood

                    I usually let the owner tell me what's good that night. I've enjoyed their lamb dishes a lot.

                    1. re: gutsofsteel

                      Thanks. Will give it a try.

                      Btw, have you been to the new market on FDB and 118th: Best Yet Market? I am in love.

                    2. re: gloriousfood

                      I thought I'd chime in about the Kiosk as, after having lived across from one of the best restaurants in Marrakesh for a year, I feel pretty confident about my ability to rate tagines.

                      Although it sort of breaks my hear to say this, the one time I was at the Kiosk the poulet citron confit I was served was salted into sweet oblivion. There was also something off about the consistency of the meat-- it managed to be both "fall off the bone" and dry at the same time. The seasoning was also a bit off.

                      That said, it was still the best tagine I've had in NYC since moving here almost exactly a year ago. Then again, I stopped trying after that one because it came so highly recommended. I've also been to Zerza (what an utter joke) and to some place in Bay Ridge that people swore by (more authentic but very boring).

                      I have been meaning to give the Kiosk another go because the owner is AWESOME. I adore him-- my husband, he and I all had a rollicking good time talking on and on and on as Moroccans are wont to do. I will definitely go again just to see him. Also, my husband had a very good cous cous (we've both forgotten which one) so perhaps the one tagine I sampled there was an anomaly.

                      So there's my two cents.

                      In fact, I have become so disillusioned with the prospect of finding a good tagine in an NYC restaurant that I've actually been meaning to get up to Astoria to try and find a real tagine (I have a few, but they're all in storage in my home state and I never manage to bring them back/send them out). I won't suffer an expensive one from Williams Sonoma-- I want the real thing. Does anyone here know where to find one?

                      1. re: xerg

                        Hmmm...interesting. Thanks for your input. I'll have to try Kiosk myself to gauge it.

                        1. re: gloriousfood

                          Please do and report back. I really hope the tagine just had an off night. Even at Le Sud, the restaurant across from my apt. in Marrakesh had its bad days (although they were few and far between). Best of luck to you or perhaps I should say alhamdoulillah, as it were.

                        2. re: xerg

                          You might like this one:

                          We brought ours home from Marrakesh (what a wonderful city!), but we ordered one from that supplier for a friend.

                          I agree that a good restaurant tagine is hard to find in the city; we basically cook our own when the craving strikes. I've had a good couscous at Nomad on 2nd Ave. and 5th St. (Tunisian owned, AFAIR), but can't speak to their other dishes.

                      2. re: gutsofsteel

                        Sounds good . Where is it on 116th St.?

                        1. re: hoi lai

                          80 East 116th St. btwn Madison & Park avenues.