Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Restaurant Riad

On our holiday to Morocco it didn't take us long to realise that a little money could go a long way when it came to eating delicious food in "opulent" locations. So when we arrived in Meknes and read about Restaurant Riad at Maison d'Hôtes Riad - a posh guesthouse that was open for dinner in the evenings with a bargain menu, we decided there and then to hunt the place out. It took a bit of finding as it was hidden away down a winding alleyway and we did have to get some locals to take us there (and also had to pay a teenager to get us back out actually) but couldn't believe our eyes when we got inside.

Obviously one of the appeals of dining at a riad was that it meant we got to go and have a good neb at a posher riad than any riads we had stayed in. It was amazing! The first thing we saw was a really fancy swimming pool with a really random elevated seating area - how opulent!

The whole dining area was based around a courtyard with a beautiful garden with lots of exotic plants and fountains with calming Moroccan music to set the ambience. At one point during our meal we were joined by a lizard, which is always a bonus.

We also loved the quirky wall of radios and the wall of clocks - some ideas we will definitely be stealing for our own house.

For such a lovely place, the set menu prices were really reasonable - ranging from 100 to 160 Dirhams (£8 - £13). This was excellent value, especially considering that including the mezze it was pretty much four courses and we stayed there for a good two and a half hours and were eating the whole time... no wonder I was uncomfortably full at the end!

The food was really great - simple traditional Moroccan scran, done very well and served by very friendly staff.

We started our meals off with a great range of mezze plates including lentils, beans, carrots and olives which all tasted really nice, particularly the flavoursome carrots which were lovely and cuminy. All this was accompanied by delicious bread - it was here that we realised that Moroccan bread up north in places like Meknes and Fez is different to the bread down south and it's actually loads nicer. This was the first time we'd tried it and we loved it.

For my starter I had the salad selection which included Moroccan tomato salad, cucumber, olives, lovely citrusy rice, potato salad and a really delicious Zaalouk - which is now probably my all time favourite Moroccan food - a rich aubergine dip. Everything tasted really lovely and fresh and I really enjoyed it.

Bailey ordered the soup which was a really tasty chickpea number which he really liked even though he dislikes chickpeas. The only complaint here wasn't quite piping hot enough.

For main course, I chose the only available veggie option which was the vegetable cous cous. I was getting pretty bored of cous cous by now so would have appreciated another veggie option but when it arrived it was really tasty with yummy veg and what I think was a nice bit of cactus fruit in there!

Bailey went for a chicken tajine which he said was delightfully rich with a buttery sauce. He was a little worried about the chicken as it looked a little dark but then once he tucked in he saw that it was delicious, succulent and soft, falling off the bone. He felt the sauce was very different to the tajine he had at Porte du Monde but very tasty, and even though he doesn't like olives, they gave the sauce a really lovely flavour. This was also great for me as I got to have his yummy, warm tajine-infused olives.

The food was all so lovely and light that you felt you could just eat away and didn't notice yourself getting full. By the end of the main course I kept moaning to Bailey that I was "TTT" (a phrase popularised by my nan Gwen Morris meaning "Tummy Touching Table").

Still, we pressed on and ordered deserts. The menu options were Seasonal Fruit or Mint Tea with Moroccan Pastries. I plumped for the fruit while Bailey ordered the tea and cakes. I also asked for an extra tea as I absolutely love Moroccan mint tea - green tea made with fresh mint and plenty of sugar (I actually became quite obsessed with it- fortunately I bought myself a Moroccan mint tea pot in the souqs and since arriving home have been enjoying a refreshing pot of the stuff but that's another story). I also thought the tea might help soothe my bursting stomach!

The fruit I got was honeydew melon which is one of my all-time faves and also it was so yummy and juicy so despite being super full I chowed it all down. Bailey's cakes were absolutely amazing, they were sort of like yummy little meringue nest / biscuit type things, one that was made of nuts that tasted a lot like this argan oil peanut butter-esque dip we'd tried at a Berber village we'd visited. It was chewy and soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside, like a good meringue. They were my favourite and I ate two of them - sorry Bailey! There were also some coconutty ones that Bailey said were the "best thing he'd ever tasted" as they were so light and fresh. We polished off the whole lot which made us even more full and fat.

We loved our dinner and loved the location and would recommend a visit to Restaurant Riad to anyone visiting Meknes. It was a meal we won't ever forget and also the people who owned it were so lovely, I wish we could have afforded to sleep there!

It was really cheap for what we got - the whole meal including drinks (and they didn't charge me for my mint tea!) set us back 240 Dirhams which is about £19. Absolute bargain.

The only thing I would have to say is that it has a bit of a silly name. I think a splendid place like Restaurant Riad deserves a bit more of an imaginative name and it should be regarded as a restaurant in its own right, rather than just an attachment of a riad where you can eat. Anyway, still a fab holiday option!


  1. Wow all those gorgeous dishes. I like the clocks on the wall, what fab surroundings to eat in.

  2. Hi Jo! Thanks for reading. Yeah all the food tasted amazing and the lovely garden and bits and bobs to look at were just the icing on the cake! Wish I could afford to eat like that year round!! xxx


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