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Aug 27, 2009 07:38 PM

Marrakesh Restaurant (Tampa)

The new French-Moroccan restaurant in Koba's former location at 2402 S. Macdill opened earlier this week. I never went to Koba's but the place now has a distinctly Moroccan feel to the interior with banquet seating and traditional Moroccan tables and stools. More important than the authentic "feel" is the authentic food. For appetizers, our party shared an eggplant dish and a soup. We were expecting the eggplant to be some variation on babagnoush but it turned out to be chopped and marinated. It was served with a small warm roll. Both the eggplant and the roll were excellent. The harira soup was also good. It was a thick soup similar to a chicken noodle soup (but according to the menu there was no chicken in it). That comparison doesn't do it justice but I am at a loss to describe it in more detail. The soup was served with a funky wood ladle which made it fun to share. For entrees we all had tagines: cornish game hen, lamb, and beef. All were extremely good but I thought my lamb was the best. The lamb, which was in big chunks of shank meat, was perfectly tender and juicy. Accompanying the lamb were prunes, apricots, nuts and a hard-boiled egg. I really enjoyed the dish. The lamb was full of flavor. For dessert we shared a white chocolate and passion fruit mousse, which was again excellent. They are starting off with a limited menu that for the moment does not include Moroccan desserts. Apparently that will be remedied soon. The tagines are $18. The quality of the food is so good that I have a hard time questioning that price. It may, however, be a little steep for the current economic climate. They are still figuring out the menu and operations, so there will be an opportunity to adjust if necessary. We were told that a lunch service is in the works as is a late night service with small plates and nargila outside. I am delighted that our culinary world in Tampa continues to expand. I hope they will find the clientele that they deserve.

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  1. Thanks for the report. I was just the other day searching in hopes that we had a Moroccan restaurant hidden in some corner of town. I look forward to trying it.

    1. thanks, CFishman! I am intrigued by your report. I look forward to trying it out.

      1. I can finally take friends to sample authentic food from my native country. I can't wait to try it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: achadili

          Get back to us about whether it measures up. I have eaten in Moroccan restaurants in other cities but I have never been to Morocco. One of the people I dined at Marrakesh with had been to Morocco and he said it surpassed his expectations. As for me, it was certainly on a par with meals I have had in Los Angeles and Chicago. I am eager to hear your impressions.

        2. My wife and I went here on Sunday night and were amazed at how good it was. Both of us really only know Moroccan from eating out in Paris when we were younger but the food here stacked up with our memories. We started with the eggplant dish described in the original post. I had a tajine and my wife had the couscous with chicken (or maybe game hen). Both were excellent and I actually ate my plate clean, which is a rarity. We had the mint tea and chocolate/hazelnut thing for dessert. One of the onwers came out to chat during desert. He and his wife are French and Moroccan respectively. Not sure how they ended up in the bay area but they are serious restaurantuers who are very into the quality of the food and overall experience. He said that the menu will be growing as they get the kitchen and the staff up to speed and that at some point soon they will be open for lunch. At the moment they are open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner. As mentioned above, it is not cheap but the quality is high enough that it seems justified. Even the service staff, which is usually the weak link in Tampa dining experiences, was good.

          1. I ate here over the weekend, I will definatly be back!
            The service was pretty bad when we first arrived however the server said she was helping out that night, so I'm guessing they will be hiring more permanent staff soon. The friendly staff made up for the "not so great" service and the food was excellent. We all had tagines, cornish hen w olives, beef w french fries, and the tastiest was definatly the lamb w prunes, almonds and hard boiled eggs. I also tried the eggplant appetizer, delish! We had great wine & a really tasty chocolate mousse for dessert. The tagines were not near as juicy as I've had homecooked by Morrocan friends, and I think what makes a great tagine is the bread(to dip into the tasty juices), and Marrakech's bread was not that great, however, I would still consider this one of Tampa' hottest places to chowdown! YUM! GREAT FUN & GREAT FOOD!

            1 Reply
            1. re: TampaNativeThatLovesNYC

              Do they have a website? I can't seem to find one and would like to take a look at their menu. Thanks!