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Moroccan Hospitality Restaurant in Malden

A friend told me about this place that opened up in a former pizza shop. She heard about it from a friends of hers who is Moroccan, and who said that the food was very good. I know very little about Moroccan food myself, but I went there this evening and our dinner was delicious. We also got takeout from them a few weeks ago; more about that later.

The restaurant is located on a busy street corner. There's a Haitian grocery on the same block, and some of the on-street parking is restricted until 7pm, so finding a spot can be tricky by Malden standards (but nothing like Cambridge, Boston, Somverville). The interior layout still looks like a pizza shop, but a comfy one. They have 5-6 tables with dark vinyl (leatherette? naugahyde?) tablecloths and chairs, no booths. You sit a bit above street level and the room is lined with big windows so it was a good spot for peoplewatching. Oh, and I'd say it's within walking distance from the Malden Center T station, but a longish walk - 15 minutes from the station, or 20 if you stroll.

My friend had mentioned that they didn't have everything listed on the menu, so when we went in I asked what was available tonight. Sadly, theyno longer serve couscous every day - I guess it wasn't selling - they only offer it on Fridays. So, my DC and I chose a bastilla with chicken and a lamb dish that the owner described as lamb with prunes, a little sweet with savory. Oh, and mint tea.

We sat down and she first brought us a baket with four huge wedges of homemade wheat bread, a spongy, flat loaf. the bread was served with three small dishes of relishes: roasted eggplant, roated red and green peppers, and homemade hot sauce. All were delicious. Our tea arrived in a small metal teapot with two glasses; we were instructed to let it steep for a few minutes. The tea was sweet and minty. I peeked inside the teapot and saw a bright green spring of mint curled up on top of loose tea leaves. I was pretty happy already with just the tea, bread, and relishes.

We didn't have to wait very long for our food to arrive, though my friend said she had a ~30 minute wait for her couscous. The chicken bastilla was a mixture of shredded chicken, almonds and (I think) walnuts, with some sweetish spices (cinnamon?) and a bit of something actually sweet, maybe honey. It was wrapped in a few layers of crispy phyllo dough. The taste made me think of a chicken bacalva, which is better than it sounds...The bastilla itself was big- a large disc maybe 7" across and 1-2" high? My DC and I each ate just a quarter and she took the rest home for tomorrow' dinner. The filling was warm but not hot (the phyllo crust was completely cooked, though, so I don't *think* it was underdone). We both enjoyed it.

The lamb dish was a shank, set in a plate of yummy sauce (saffron and I'm guessing black pepper, cardamom?) with whole stewed prunes, and sprinkled with small roasted whole almonds and sesame seeds. The sauce was on the salty side for my taste but I don't think it was oversalted. The lamb was verrrry tender. It was an intensely flavored and delicious dish.

We didn't have room for dessert, which was too bad because I'd heard that their pastries were very good. Total bill, including tax, for two entrees, a small pot (2 glasses) of mint tea (I guess the relishes and bread came with the entrees), was $21.50. We were the only ones there for most of the 1-1/2 hours that we sat chatting and eating, which is too bad; I really hope this place makes it. The owners were very personable and warm, and the space is oddly cozy for an old pizza shop.

Re: our takeout experience, I sent my hubby over there a few weeks ago to pick up some takeout couscous. Long story short, at noon on a Saturday they had very little of the menu available and he waited almost an hour for them to make some falafel and brochettes (they brought out some sort of sweet pastry, as an apology, for him and the boys while he waited). Then an even longer story short, said takeout traveled to from Malden out to Wellesley and then on to Reading, when we finally got to eat our lunch...even after that long trip, I thought it was pretty darned good falafel. Again, I'm no expert but the falafel was light and fresh-tasting,and not fried within an inch of its life so that all you taste is crunchy: that falafel had flavor. The pita was soft and fresh, too. I will eat it again.

So to sum up: really tasty food at a great price, comfy space, spotty availability of menu items with the potential for a long wait. If you're in a hurry and have your heart set on a particular item, this might not be the place for you.(Who knows; if you call ahead, they just might make it for you). But overall I really like it and will go again soon.

Moroccan Hospitality Restaurant
188 Salem Street, Malden MA
781-605-0520

Their takeout manu lists breakfast, lunch, and dinner; I think the sign on the door say they open at 9:30 am.

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Moroccan Hospitality Restaurant
188 Salem St, Malden, MA 02148

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  1. Thanks for this! Looking forward to checking it out!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Chris VR

      I will have to try this place, too. Nice to have an inexpensive tasty place nearby. BTW- I think I saw you last night speaking at the School Committe Meeting- Nice job!

      1. re: macca

        Eeek! Thanks, I guess! To keep it about food, has anyone been to the Brazilian grocery on Wyoming in Melrose yet? I want to support them but am not sure what should go in my Brazilian shopping basket and with the kids out of school, can't really make a leisurely stroll through.

        1. re: Chris VR

          I've been into the Brazillian market. I got some pretty good hot sauce that I like, but I have to say it seems like a pretty odd shop for melrose. The owner was very nice. A woman was in buying some jewelry and it sounded like it wasn't the first time. Maybe they have an online presence but if they are relying on walk ins I would think they would have a tough go of it.
          I wonder if this place and the new coffee tea and me are connected in any way?

      1. Thanks g1m. I was just pining for a good B'Stilla. Do you know if they also do pigeon as well as chicken? With this place, habesha and fuloon, Malden is beginning to challenge for top ethnic chow zone.

        2 Replies
        1. re: gourmaniac

          No pigeon on the menu, just the chicken bastilla and a seafood one too. They also had chicken with preserved lemon, and lahrira (soup with lentils and chickpeas) last night but there were only 2 of us, so we couldn't try everything we wanted to :-)

          I am actually surprised that Malden has so few ethnic chow choices, given our demographics (lots of first-generation immigrants). There was a nice little Moroccan market on Pleasant Street that also served wraps etc. for lunch, but they only lasted a year. There's another Moroccan market called Market Dunya that seems to be doing better - they're in the Maplewood section of town, on Lebanon Street.

          1. re: gourmaniac

            ...then again, hubby went to pick-up our sushi order from All Seaons Table tonight, and returned home with a new menu. Ethiopian food with some shawarma, shish kabob, and falafel thrown in? It's called Abiata and it must be in the space that was vacated by Olive Market (I can't think of another open space on that block). We'll have to check it out.

          2. I wonder if this is the Reef Cafe folks finally relocated? If so, the food is great!

            2 Replies
            1. re: StriperGuy

              Reef Cafe folks switched to making Moroccan food?

              1. re: Luther

                Whoops, you're right, they are Lebanese.

            2. Interesting that they offer the same "hospitality" as at Baraka (i.e. food takes forever, have to call ahead for some things). Authentic I guess?

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              Baraka Cafe
              80 Pearl St, Cambridge, MA 02139

              1. went the other day for lunch

                had the lahrira (harira), lamb tagine with couscous and vegetables, and a really weak mint tea. the meal was served with complimentary housemade moroccan bread

                the lahrira (tomato based soup with lentils and chickpeas) was full of flavor. it was perfectly spiced and had a nice level of heat. a side of fresh lemon wedges to squirt on top would have been nice but no complaints

                the lamb tagine was a nice fatty lamb shank served on top a pile of couscous and surrounded by a medley of fresh vegetables. the lamb was nice and tender and the couscous helped to soak up it's juices

                service was friendly and attentive. i eagerly look forward to returning and trying more dishes. especially the b'stilla

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                Moroccan Hospitality Restaurant
                188 Salem St, Malden, MA 02148

                5 Replies
                1. re: galangatron

                  I think I am headed here saturday early evening with a small crew of adventurous eaters who know nothing about morrocan food. I am thinking I might just drop in around noon and pre order a bunch of stuff that the owner recommends. For those that have been, do you see any reason this would be a bad idea?

                  1. re: drbangha

                    Can't think of one. I was thinking of doing a similar thing myself when my family visits next week - call ahead and ask if they'd make couscous on another night besides Friday.

                    1. re: gimlis1mum

                      i had a lamb tagine with couscous there on a sunday afternoon

                      1. re: galangatron

                        hm, maybe they are doing it all weekend then? When we went on a Tuesday and asked about couscous, they told us that they were only doing it on Fridays now. Hopefully business is picking up and they will have more items more often.

                    2. re: drbangha

                      the owners are very friendly and accommodating people. in fact, they suggest that you call ahead if you want a specific dish

                  2. We really enjoyed lunch today. Lamb couscous was a lamb shank served over a large plate of couscous, with tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, another squash, something that was either a parsnip or a turnip, and chick peas. It was very good, my favorite bite was the parsnip/turnip, which had kind of soaked up all the flavors. The lamb was a generous, tender portion and the dish was easily sized for two, a bargain at the price of $10 or so.

                    I liked the falafel, which was served with lettuce and tomato on a pita spread with hummus (onions were also offered). The hummus had a piquancy different that the hummuses (hummi?) I have had in the past. The falafel itself was very light and crunchy.

                    The staff is very friendly, and we were offered a plate of sfouf, which was new to me- sort of a crumbly mix of ground dates and almond, with honey and cinnamon, traditionally eaten during Ramadan (which starts in a few weeks). They had small takeout containers of it in the pastry case. Googling sfouf shows a Lebanese semolina cake, which wasn't at all what we had. Here it is: http://moroccanfood.about.com/od/dess...

                    We also had a pot of sweetened mint tea, which I didn't find weak at all.

                    We bought some filled filo pastries (not baklava, which she said they just ran out of) for snacks later.

                    We were interested in one of the other couscous options, and she said they didn't have it, but if we called ahead another time, they could make it.

                    BTW, The sign now says they open at 11:30, IIRC, so maybe they nixed breakfast. We absolutely will order from here again. Great find, gimlismum!

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                    Moroccan Hospitality Restaurant
                    188 Salem St, Malden, MA 02148

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Chris VR

                      ooo, I'm glad you liked it. I can't really claim it as my find, tho - I wouldn't have known about it if my friend hadn't told me :-)

                      1. re: gimlis1mum

                        I am getting very excited for my dinner tonight.....

                        1. re: drbangha

                          Let us know how pre-ordering works out. She recommended that to us as well. BTW seating is really limited. 5-6 small tables total.

                          1. re: Chris VR

                            OK- so we went last night. To summarize, we are getting take out again tonight. This is an absolute chowhound find of the highest quality.

                            We didn't get around to pre-ordering. To Chis VR's point, this place is TINY. Our DCs were a couple minutes early, and, assuming we made reservations,they took the reservations of some other folks. We put two and two together half way through the meal. Sorry. Strongly recomend you make reservations.

                            To the food. The owner comes out and asks us what we would like. She gives a littany of dishes. I explain we like whatever. she instantly gets it and says "you want me to feed you?" We ask if they take credit cards and it goes from there. plate after plate after plate comes out: roasted chicken, bastille, lamb, more lamb, couscous, more chicken, more lamb, soup. We were stuffed to the gills.

                            I picked up the check. For six of us, going whole hog, the damage was $60+/-.

                            So incredibly great. This place is the definition of chowhound. I can't wait for dinner.

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                            Moroccan Hospitality Restaurant
                            188 Salem St, Malden, MA 02148

                            1. re: drbangha

                              Hehe....well, maybe I WILL take credit for finding it, then ;-)

                              Srsly tho, glad you enjoyed it. I'm hoping to talk my brothers into trying it tomorrow. If not there then maybe the new Ethiopian/Mediterranean place on Pleasant St. another friend just told me that its pretty good, too, at least for the Ethiopean food.

                              1. re: gimlis1mum

                                We tried to go to the new Ethiopian place yesterday but they were closed due to oven trouble. Wound up at Habesha, which was great and has new items on the menu since I was last there. (Am dying to try the Moroccan, thanks so much for posting.)

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                                Habesha Restaurant
                                535 Main St, Malden, MA

                    2. Went this past Saturday with my family and was extremely impressed. The bastiya was really superb, having just the right amount of nuts and sweetness. Also the filling was not dry, which can be the death of a good bastiya. It was so enormous that we had ordered two for the four of us to share, but ended up splitting one and taking the second home.

                      For entrees, I thought the chicken with olives and preserved lemons was excellent (though I would have rather it been served with couscous and not the french fries that were piled on top of it). I also liked the vegearian couscous, with lots of zucchini, though I'm not sure how vegetarian it was, being served with a giant lamb shank in the center of the plate. Luckily none of us are actually vegetarian, because the owners are so nice, I would have hated to send something back. The chicken couscous with nuts, raisins and carmelized onions was perfect for my mom, who loves her savory foods with a touch of sweetness.

                      For dessert, the complimentary sfouf they provided was a nice touch, though by that point we were pretty stuffed.

                      It really is a perfect chow spot, off the beaten path, friendly hosts, delicious food, great prices. Wish I lived close enough for it to be a regular takeout spot.

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                      Moroccan Hospitality Restaurant
                      188 Salem St, Malden, MA 02148

                      1. This place sounds so killer I cannot wait to go. I cook a lot of Moroccan food and these are the classics, would love to see some of the lovely cooked salads however. Anyway, I'm already feeling the goodness, much like Fuloon before I went for the first time.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: tatsu

                          We had takeout tonight and tried some sort of cabbage thing, at least I think that's what she said it was...fermented cabbage? not really sure because my kids were making too much noise on the background when I phoned in our order. She described it, I said ok we'll try it, and she said if we didn't like it she give me a credit toward something else the next time. (Whatever it was, it was delicious. Did seem like cabbage of some sort with a little spicy kick to it).

                          We had the lamb with prunes again and another lamb dish with vegetable (I chose zucchini), a couscous with chicken, chicken with lemon and olives, and the chicken bastille again. And the hummus. My mother-in-law, brother, sis-in-law, and tweenaged nieces loved the food(they'd never tried Moroccan before).

                          Oh, and the owner asked if we lived close by and then offered to call me when our food was ready, which I thought was very nice.

                        2. Well, this place exceeded my expectations and then some. There are small quibbles, but overall, the food is truly home style. When you get chicken with olives, it's half a chicken. I would quarter it myself and layer the breast quarter under the other quarter, so it doesn't dry out, but whatever, it's a fantastic dish, they aren't skimping on materials even the saffron which is unfreakingbelievable for 9.99. You get two lousy drumsticks at KFC for that, for all I know. Literally everything is homemade, down to the preserved lemons and highly impressive durum wheat bread to sop up plates with. (Dyal Smida) Got the lamb shank, again a huge shank. The only thing they don't make by hand are the pre-cut fries and curing their own olives, this is the real deal, you have to go, all of you. The desserts are great and they even have Msemen for breakfast. They do have salads, like spiced carrots, cabbage, etc, so specials are part of the lineup.

                          Check out my preview photos on flickr for all to see:
                          http://www.flickr.com/photos/tatsuuuu...

                          This is not just a great 'ethnic' place, it's possibly the most authentic international restaurant of any genre, that I've seen in Boston. If that sounds irrational, I know. But I know how to make a lot of these dishes, and frankly these people are born with it and I'm not. I really feel it in the most simple of things, such as the bread. It may seem like just plain ole bread, but it's extremely specific, like it got plucked out of kitchen in Morocco and got transported here.

                          The owner Amina as it turns out, is an unlikely restauranteur, but astoundingly good for a first-timer. She seems very intelligent, perhaps that and her skill will make her a success.

                          It's far above Baraka Cafe, if that means anything to you. It totally makes up for every little Moroccan joint that went in and out of business here. I cannot say how pleased I am.

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                          Baraka Cafe
                          80 Pearl St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                          Moroccan Hospitality Restaurant
                          188 Salem St, Malden, MA 02148

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: tatsu

                            After five of us had a very tasty lunch there today, add me to the growing ranks of fans. The chicken b’stilla was excellent, and the two chicken tagines (with lemons and olives, and with lentils) and lamb tagine (with prunes and almonds) were close runners-up. (Ordering those dishes ahead of time meant no disappointments or long waits.) We also received (without having ordered) a wonderful eggplant-pepper appetizer and a very creditable hummus, accompanied by the hearty bread mentioned above. Even the sweet mint tea that ended the meal proved surprisingly refreshing on a wiltingly-hot afternoon.

                            The restaurant is planning to expand its menu offerings for Ramadan (most of the month of August this year), including some fish dishes not normally available.

                            Photos are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/65258466...

                             
                             
                             
                            1. re: NoNatto

                              everything was delicious and the service couldn't have been more friendly and accommodating. my favorite dishes were the zaalouk (cold salad with eggplant, tomatoes, and roasted peppers), chicken b'stilla, and the tagine with lamb shank, toasted almonds, and sweet dried prunes

                          2. Went last night, what a great place. Ordered the chicken with olives and lamb shank, instead of prunes, with the shank, opted for braised green beans. The saffron spice in the chicken was perfect, not too overly done. I was almost barbaric with the lamb shank bone. Had a chance to talk with the women owners, they love to cook and suggested that they like to serve dishes that are not on their menu. I'm going back next week to do just that, just let them cook for us. This would be a great place take a group and say, ' just feed us'. The Moroccan sweet tea, with a hint of mint, was a great palate cleanser while trying the entrees. The pirces are very reasonable, the lamb was $14 and the chicken $10 with most entrees in that range. They take all major credit cards, give them a try, at 6pm the place was still pretty empty.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: treb

                              good idea about the lamb shank bone. i'll have to remember that for next time

                            2. How are the vegetarian options? I'd love to go here, but it's always a toss-up as to whether or not a place has enough food for us.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: tazia

                                It's trickier for a vegetarian there. They do have a number of excellent salads (carrot, cabbage) and hummus, and they also can do a vegetarian couscous preparation (though be clear you want no meat as the vegetarian plate we ordered also included a lamb shank). However, the bulk of the menu is meat oriented, so your choices will be considerably limited.

                                1. re: tazia

                                  The falafel was good for lunch, and I think you could make a decent dinner out of it with hummus, pita and some of their salad-y sides.

                                  1. re: tazia

                                    They had a dish with a lot of veggies, I'd ask them to prep you a dish, be specific about your likes. They're very accommodating,

                                  2. Another great dinner there last night, and that chicken with lemon and olives is delicious! I was skeptical of the fries but they were perfect for soaking up the sauce.

                                    Here's their website: http://www.wix.com/nouzhaghallay/moro... She says they are on Facebook too but I can't find it.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Chris VR

                                      I found them on Facebook -they don't have much info there, though, just the name and address.

                                      1. re: Chris VR

                                        i was skeptical about the fries too. they're not bad but i think i would ask if the dish could be prepared with couscous next time

                                      2. Thanks for calling this one out. We went last night and it was so great. Like other posters have said, this is what a real Chowhound find is all about. The chicken bastilla alone was worth the trip, freshly pulled out of the oven, crispy, fragrant, full of chicken and nuts and sauce. Followed up by a lightly fried tilapia served with a hot sauce of which we scraped up every last bit. Accompanied by mint tea, fresh moroccan style bread, beets, and an eggplant dish. We finished with 2 cookies and some of the sfouf. Total bill for two of us with far too much food was about $40 before tip. The owner was a total sweetheart and there were friends/family in there who were so friendly. A great experience in every way. I need to go back to try the other dishes and the couscous.

                                        Owner said they have been open about 4 months and were doing well, although it was very quiet when we were in there. I think that will change once the word is really out there.

                                        It was easily one of the best meals/restaurant experiences I have ever eaten in Boston.

                                        1. Went again last night, delicious, had the lamb with six different types of vegetables, which included acorn squash, carrots, chick peas just to name a few, over couscous also a beef stew with green olives special. The slow tagine cooking really brings out the flavor of the meat and spices. This place is minimal but a real gem.

                                          1. hi mum, hoping to go here for dinner tonight. do you know if it's true about no couscous except fri (and sat?)? if so, bread and fr fries are their only starch?thanks much.

                                            p.s.CHs: hours , , 11:30am-9PM mon-sat; not sun.

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                                              I had couscous the first time I was there for lunch on a Tuesday but the next time I was there for dinner on a Tuesday I was told they don't do couscous except on weekends. So I wouldn't count on it. And yes, I think bread and fries are the only starches but the bread is fantastic and the fries work better than you'd expect (especially in the chicken with preserved lemon and olive.)

                                              1. re: Chris VR

                                                A couple of their dishes have potatoes (not fries) in them. Agree, I thought the fries with the chicken would be soggy but, they were hot and crisp and added a great texture to the dish.

                                              2. re: opinionatedchef

                                                We've had the couscous on a weekday, too, though I couldn't tell you which one. You might call this afternoon and ask if they'll have it tonight. (though someone mentioned above that they weren't able to get through on the phone.)

                                                Agree w/Chris about the bread and fries. I enjoyed the whole wheat bread but the semolina was really outstanding.

                                                1. re: gimlis1mum

                                                  I had no problem getting on the phone through the Tuesday I called in advance for a larger group with some food allergies, and she does recommend people do so if there's something particular they want. I'm not sure of the whys and wherefores of the cous cous availability, so do let us know if you learn anything handy. it might be as simple as leftovers being available from the weekend, so that might not be something they want to bruit about.

                                                  1. re: Chris VR

                                                    Aw, too bad about Sunday. She was telling me she will have to close on Sunday because there's no business.

                                                    From what she told me when I had a little chat, she said most Moroccans don't order cous cous, and they are almost explicitly gringo-orders (My words, not hers, but you get the idea). My guess is it was either leftover, or possibly there was a large group who called ahead (24 hours is the best, I think) who asked specifically for cous cous and thus she had some already made...

                                                    If you want cous cous during the week, my suggestion is to get a large enough group, call ahead for 24 hours and beg!

                                              3. She affirmed tonight that couscous is only Fri. I'm guessing that their broader menu is also only available fri/sat maybe. Also, that neat dessert described in the globe article- was only for Ramadan. Tonight, Mon., the only entrees on the menu were roast chicken w/ lemon etc, lamb shank w/ prunes and almonds, and beef shwarma; no fish, no couscous, no bisteya, no soup w/ lamb, chickpeas etc. Judging from other CHs' ecstasy w/ this food, I think we were just there at the wrong time- hour before closing on Mon. night. We had the lentil soup, falafel, hoomus, eggplant w/ tomato, roast chicken and lamb shank.

                                                There were 4 women working, not one other soul there for dinner, and it took a half hour and 3 requests to get a pot of tea. If they'd all been there since 11:30 AM, maybe they were just super exhausted. Either that, or Morroccan time and Island time are related. When the fryolator? heated up for the fries that accompany the chicken- the whole room was saturated with the smell of old old horrid old oil that smelled like it should have been changed last week(and the fries tasted just like that horrid oil.) Biggest surprise for me was the falafel- it was really terrific; very different and, for me, tastier than any i've ever had (i don't think it is bulghur based and i'm guessing maybe they use different legumes from others, as the inside was creamy and light beige). Same with the wonderful hoomus being better than others(I detected red Aleppo or one of the turkish red peppers)and it was a deep gold color. I'd like to try their shwarma though I have a feeling it is the griddled ground beef version, not the rotating loaf on a spit.Has anyone had it?

                                                For those of you planning a visit, don't go late on a Mon. night. And maybe keep to the weekend so you can enjoy more entree options, esp. the couscous - to absorb those sauces. I also think Take-out is a really worthwhile tactic; this space is the single most depressing I have eaten in after Aziza in Allston.

                                                15 Replies
                                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                  I haven't had the shwarma, but I haven't seen the rotating load on a spit in that place (I've stuck my head into the kitchen...), so I assume it's the griddled version as well.

                                                  Another tactic you can use is, as I mentioned above, call ahead 24 hours before, tell them you have a good sized group, mention "Saw it on chowhound", and go there prepared. I think the owner (one of the four woman. Rest is her mom, sis, and neice...) does frequent shopping, and does not over-stock. She explicitly mentioned she only buys the fish/seafood for weekend because she doesn't want to keep it around more than one day. I am also guessing they serve Halal and meat are generally harder to get once they run out. She's very mindful of how the business operates, so any suggestion you got, you can tell her and she'll be more than happy to hear those.

                                                  She is also very adept chef, and can make a lot more dishes that aren't simply on the menu (including more vegetarian options). As mentioned, really the best way to sample this is to call ahead, go in a larger group, and tell her to just feed the group (ala fuloon feast option).

                                                  1. re: Kremti

                                                    They have a schwarma spit. The meat is bought, not prepared in house, though that may change in future. I haven't tried it.

                                                    1. re: Aromatherapy

                                                      Ah, I musta been completely blind then...my apologies. Is always excited with the tajines so I must have blocked it off my mind...

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                                                      tajine
                                                      cambridge MA, cambridge, MA

                                                      1. re: Aromatherapy

                                                        Had their beef shwarma sandwiches take out today. Really terrific-3 generous thick slice/slabs of very flavorful spiced and herbed ground meat(loaf, as opposed to compressed chunks of meat ); good quality pita. They reheat well too. While My Love was perfectly happy with the sandwich as is(no sauce), I added TrJ's Cilantro Yoghurt 'dip' to mine. Real winner!

                                                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                          I never had a serious problem with the service, sans a "slow-mint-tea" issue just like you had, but there are some serious skills in that kitchen. I'm glad you enjoyed the shwarma despite my misinformation earlier!

                                                          1. re: Kremti

                                                            no worries (as i also did not see a spit, out front) but aroma's keen hound sense provided us the real scoop!

                                                      2. re: Kremti

                                                        i really think our 'waitress' must just have been exhausted. though we smiled and said we'd read all kinds of great things about them, she didn't smile and had the personality of a wet dish rag, while we saw/ heard snipets of smiling positive from her 'other half/third' who was behind the counter.
                                                        our 'waitress' is on the right in this photo:

                                                        http://articles.boston.com/2011-08-24...

                                                        now, onto better luck and the friendly folks at Biryani Park.

                                                        -----
                                                        Biryani Park
                                                        105 Broadway (Route 99), Malden, MA 02148

                                                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                          I haven't met your waiter but I have met Amina. She's wonderful and warm.

                                                          As someone who has extensive experience cooking this type of cuisine, the food is very authentic, and very traditional. Good food takes time, and that is very much the case in Morocco. Cous cous really isn't the kind of thing you make one order at a time. It actually is popular, not a gringo dish, but one you would make for guests at your home. Sorry that your experiences didn't satisfy you, but perhaps every diner and every restaurant cannot be a great match. Certainly we all experience that once in a while.

                                                          Personally I admire the ambitious efforts of this tiny place. They have outdone any North African restaurant to date in the Boston area, right up there with Tangierino's traditional menu in their earlier days. The backstory is very touching too, and I dare say you would be less emboldened to post so often your issues if you knew it.

                                                          -----
                                                          Tangierino
                                                          73 Main Street, Charlestown, MA 02129

                                                          1. re: tatsu

                                                            'emboldened to post so often my issues'? yikes. and here i thought i was being compassionate about exhaustion and all. twice. as i said, so glad you love it.

                                                            1. re: tatsu

                                                              so what's the backstory? I went to the web site but it doesn't load. I'll go when I am able despite backstory. wish backstory had been noted in the globe article.

                                                            2. re: opinionatedchef

                                                              My one time there we went 10 minutes before closing, we had chicken with olives, lamb shank, basti'la, bread, salad, etc etc. We dined in, stayed well after the door was locked and had a great time. One guy knocked on the door to take out something and they also accommodated that person. I got to know Amina a bit, took some desserts home, and she was totally cool about keeping them late. They are super agreeable in my book.

                                                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                She's been our server each time we've been there and she's always been friendly and personable... definitely not a wet dish rag. I think it's tough if you come in anywhere an hour before closing time, on a slow night.

                                                                  1. re: Chris VR

                                                                    I've been many times, the family is friendly and they are always ready to explain anything about their dishes. Each time I've talked with the daughters about their menu and they were very accommodating even to the point where they said if I had a request for a dish just to call a day in advance and let them know. Maybe Opinionated hit an odd day, hey it happens but, I'd go back again for another try.

                                                              2. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                Wow, I'm sorry that the experience wasn't up to expectations. Hopefully your meal at Biryani Park will be more even from dish to dish...their decor isn't much to look at either, though. It's a pretty funky place.

                                                                -----
                                                                Biryani Park
                                                                105 Broadway (Route 99), Malden, MA 02148

                                                              3. Finally, finally, got out here last night, and had a wonderful time.

                                                                Fresh wheat bread and the wonderful, wonderful harira soup arrived on the house as an apology for the wait on a busy, busy Friday night. I am not a soup person by disposition, but I couldn't have enjoyed the harira any more, and was very greatful that it was foisted on us, or else I woudln't have tried it. They had run out of couscous, even on a Friday, and we opted for the chicken tagine instead. Very nice fresh sauce, but half a chicken cooked like that is just not my thing.

                                                                Mint tea was terrific, with gorgeous, long loose tea leaves and fresh sprigs of mint, mingled with ample sugar and water that's hot, but not too hot to overbrew.

                                                                As good as the opening bread and harira were, the best bites were the desserts, where we sampled one of each cookie, and one was better than the next. Coconut, sesame, almond drenched in honey --- I'll be back for the cookies alone anytime I pass through Malden, even if I'm not hungry,

                                                                The owner was very friendly, and was happy for us to linger.

                                                                But next time I want to try that couscous! =)

                                                                14 Replies
                                                                1. re: lipoff

                                                                  I was really looking forward to trying Moroccan Hospitality after reading the descriptions but was a little disappointed that our experience did not match others'. It was 1:30 when we sat down today and there were three other pairs of customers over the course of our visit.

                                                                  My harira soup was heated in the microwave without being stirred so that some was cold and some was lukewarm; the delicious spongy bread was served with no condiments, and my son's lamb with prunes was offered with no side starch. Bill for harira, lamb, tea and falafel came to $26. We enjoyed what we had but felt we had missed something.

                                                                  1. re: cassis

                                                                    cassis, while it is not a popular position on this board, we had a similarly unimpressive experience when we were there(which i described above.) no return. But the owner has won the hearts of many CHs and i hope she will succeed and grow and improve.

                                                                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                      Link

                                                                      -----
                                                                      Moroccan Hospitality Restaurant
                                                                      188 Salem St, Malden, MA 02148

                                                                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                        It is a homey place in good and not so good ways, I will admit. The chicken we had had a dry breast to be honest, my friends and I would quarter it and layer the breast under the thigh or as we do, just add more onions to keep it moist.

                                                                        It is rather disconcerting to have microwaves going, but I can see that for Harira. It's thick so it can dry out, there is no way you can just leave it on a burner or steam table. Too bad they didn't stir it or let it even out.

                                                                        With Moroccans, the bread is the cereal, the fork, the plate, the everything. It needs no condiment.

                                                                        I am willing to overlook some things with a place like this. This is really hard to find food. It's not the height of Moroccan cuisine, but it's a extremely good value and it's quite authentic. The bread and patisserie, cookies, etc are almost better quality than the main courses which is a real unexpected bonus and make up for an lack of elan in the kitchen.

                                                                        1. re: tatsu

                                                                          I was careful to compare my experience with that of previous posters--tagine with fries or couscous, bread with three condiments, hot harira--not with some idealized version. The online menu shows no prices, but we may have paid more than earlier diners too. I wish them well, but won't be returning.

                                                                          1. re: cassis

                                                                            you might be thinking of the helmand. moroccan hospitality restaurant doesn't serve any condiments with their bread

                                                                            1. re: galangatron

                                                                              In the long review by gimlis1mum that begins this thread, she says "the bread was served with three small dishes of relishes: roasted eggplant, roated red and green peppers, and homemade hot sauce." Perhaps that was a one-time-only thing?

                                                                              1. re: Allstonian

                                                                                The times I went they served those items with their bread.

                                                                                1. re: Allstonian

                                                                                  I think the last time I went, the dips/relishes weren't served with the bread. But it's been a while - at the time I thought maybe they were out that night. I hope she hasn't stopped doing it altogether.

                                                                                  1. re: gimlis1mum

                                                                                    Last time I went, for lunch, no extras (which, I believe, is what they are). I'm wondering how the business is doing.

                                                                                    1. re: Aromatherapy

                                                                                      I was there about 4 wks ago, they appear to be doing fine. Lovely sisters that run the place with mom doing some of the heavy cooking in the Kitchen.

                                                                              2. re: cassis

                                                                                there is a tagine with lamb and vegetables over couscous. it might only be available on certain days though. the tagine with lamb, almonds, and prunes doesn't come with couscous. there is no excuse, however, for the lukewarm harira

                                                                              3. re: tatsu

                                                                                I agree with Tastu on this and sorry that Cassis' experience there wasn't better. My experience at MH was excellent and the quality for price was excellent. The lamb tagine with prunes was delicious and for $11.99 was impressive. The B'stilla ($14.99) was among the best things I've eaten and made me realize how great this dish can be. The fact that this dish came from a kitchen that looks like a pizza joint adds to the pleasure for me. I've not been to Morocco but MH was better than places that i've been to in Paris, which has a good reputation for Moroccan food. Nice tip on the cookies that i will try next time.

                                                                                1. re: gourmaniac

                                                                                  yes, thnx tatsu,will have to stop and get some sweets on our way back from biryani park next time.

                                                                        2. Six of us had a truly fantastic meal here on Friday night. Two of my DCs had dined here often and set up the whole thing. I have no idea if they ordered ahead or not. To start, we had the housemade bread, which I was told was semolina bread. It had a nice chewy crust and exquisite crumb. The baker in our group was blown away by it -- well, we all were. With it was served some delicious pale orange hummus-like dip and a bit later an eggplant-red pepper dish. No idea if these are ordered or were comps. Then the harira soup (billed as vegetarian and tasted as though it was) -- this was absolutely delicious. Salads came out next, not looking all that impressive but bursting with flavor -- the raw shredded beets on top converted both beet-haters at the table. Then we got an enormous b'stilla, which was earth-shatteringly wonderful -- loads of nuts and spices, meltingly tender chicken, super-crispy phyllo. I am not a fan of sweets at all but I loved this. The vegetarian DC got a vegetable tagine which she kindly shared, it being vast, and it was really wonderful, loads of layers of flavor and spicing. And a lamb shank cous cous with many vegetables came last and was demolished, even though we were really full at that point. I thought the cous cous itself was wonderful and would definitely call ahead for it. Tea was served and kept replenished, the sisters were warm and gracious, and the whole experience really sang for us. I have no idea what it cost because one of my DCs kindly picked up the tab. We will be back, sooner rather than later. I do think calling ahead is the key, and if not, at least just letting them guide you as to what to get. (The DCs who had been there before scoffed at the idea of looking at the menu.) And to echo others, the space itself is nothing and looks highly unpromising from the outside, but don't let that deter you.

                                                                          11 Replies
                                                                          1. re: GretchenS

                                                                            Glad you enjoyed MH, it truly an excellent place, did they serve you the Moroccan black oily olives with the bread? They also make a seafood version of their bastilla but, it must be ordered in advance so they can purchase the seafood. I also like that the restaurtant is basic and simple. The mother, who does most of the heavy cooking, can really make flavorful dishes!

                                                                            1. re: GretchenS

                                                                              I tried to go there several months ago and it seemed like the staff was completely overwhelmed with little food coming out. We did not stick around.

                                                                              Clearly, your experience was nothing like that, so I do wonder how much "setting up" took place to get such a great result. Can you let us know to what extent ordering ahead was done in your case?

                                                                              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                                                I will try to find out. The friends who are regulars got there ahead of the rest of us. I suspect they just asked for us to be fed and for the vegetarian to be taken care of. I think that the pace may have been a bit leisurely but we had so much fun talking (we don't get together often enough) that we didn't pay attention. I did notice that a couple who arrived after us got their meals fairly quickly. I hope that our fabulous experience was not a one-off! It is a long drive but one we are planning to make again soon.

                                                                                And treb, no black oily olives although there were some wonderful green ones in the veggie tagine.

                                                                                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                                                  Bob, I'm just curious..how many people were in your party? I have a half-cooked theory that they respond better to groups of 4 or more..when I've gone with just one other DC, the food was still good but the enthusiasm from the sisters seemed lacking.

                                                                                  1. re: gimlis1mum

                                                                                    I have hated to say anything but our lunch there about a year ago was very disappointing: watery, barely warmed up harira, tough lamb shank, etc etc and not particularly welcoming reception, as if we had caught them off guard. Perhaps they do better when they can plan ahead for a particular party.

                                                                                    1. re: cassis

                                                                                      Still gets my nod for most overrated restaurant on CH. When I went I did get this weird impression that they were unprepared to serve me food, even though it was like 730pm on a Friday. The service was awkward and the food was in the watery/barely warmed category.

                                                                                      1. re: Luther

                                                                                        I completely agree with you and cassis. our 2 visits were solidly 'meh' enough that we have not returned. Just the 2 of us eating in the whole room, and service was abysmal/ major Island Time and also, not friendly.

                                                                                    2. re: gimlis1mum

                                                                                      I like your theory - it was just me and the missus.

                                                                                      1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                                                        Hmmm, or maybe it is the call ahead/reservations thing. Or a combination of the two? I haven't been in quite a while, but a couple of times when I walked-in with one DC the reception was lukewarm (though the food was fine, I didn't have the bad food experience that cassis did). I sent my parents there in Sept. with another couple, though, and called ahead to make a reservation...they raved about the food, made no complaints about the service. It's odd.

                                                                                      2. re: gimlis1mum

                                                                                        Based on limited experience I agree that larger parties = more enthusiasm. When they are on they are *really* on.

                                                                                        1. re: Aromatherapy

                                                                                          I've been there about 4 times, party of 2 with no reservations. We tried over 10 of their entree's. over the 4 visits. The sisters, although very busy preping and cooking, were cordial and polite. When we asked about certain dishes spicing and preping etc, the sisters were more than ready to explain. As far as the place itself, look it's not the Ritz, infact it's quite Spartan but, it's clean and I found the service to be good. I would like to go back with a large party of 6-8, call ahead and just tell them to feed us keeping a cap on the per person price.