*This dining experience took place in August 2013 and includes a gluten free & yellow food coloring review.
|Inside Restaurant Marrakesh|
Dining at Restaurant Marrakesh in the World Showcase at Epcot makes you feel like you’ve been transported to the Middle East. From the decor to the food and even the live entertainment, it’s not hard to see why. This restaurant is tucked away in the back of the Morocco Pavilion and is often one of the most overlooked restaurants in the World Showcase. You can easily get in to dine at this location, even without a reservation. On this particular visit, we found the restaurant to be very quiet (even for a Saturday evening).
I had not been to Restaurant Marrakesh in several years, so I was excited to head back. Some of my friends had been several times recently (one of whom is gluten free & also allergic to yellow food coloring), and they had been really enjoying it. So, I joined them one night for dinner. One of the things that had changed from the last time that I went from this time is that the chef did not come out, but rather the server worked with you on special dietary information. While I always prefer to speak with a chef, this actually was fine because the server seemed very knowledgeable and was willing to get the chef if we needed to speak with him. I will say that the first time I went, I had some difficulties with the chef due to a language barrier and I often find this to be the case at Tangierine Cafe (you can read a recent review of the quick service location HERE). The good thing is that most Middle Eastern food options have gluten free counterparts or are naturally GF. And they don’t really use dairy either.
|Live entertainment at the restaurant. Traditional music & belly dancing|
Both my friend and I chose the lemon chicken (I almost got the kebobs but decided to try something different). Our table also shared the Moroccan Salad Combo For Two – which contains green pepper and tomato, marinated olives, carrots, potatoes, and cucumber salad. Of course, this was enough for the 3 of us at dinner, so it was great. Both my friend and I got the Ener-G rolls (one of the few locations on property that still carries them) with it. Overall, my favorites were the marinated olives (the same ones at Restaurant Marrakesh), the carrots–surprisingly flavorful and very tender, my body can’t handle crunchy carrots in large amounts–and the potatoes. The cucumber salad was very bland. It needed salt (which my friends tried and said made all the difference). The green pepper & tomato was a bit like a tapenade but just not my favorite, really. If I were a vegan or vegetarian, this would be a terrific option as an appetizer or even an entree with some other sides!
|Moroccan Salad Combo: from L to R Green Pepper & Tomatoes, Marinated Olives, Carrots, Potatoes, and Cucumber Salad with Ener-G rolls|
One of the other things I got was the mint tea. Omigoodness!! This was THE.BEST.MINT.TEA.EVER! Can you tell I really liked it? Also, the way they serve the tea is a show in and of itself. Truly. Here’s a little video clip showing you what I mean (It’s a wonder they don’t spill the tea from that distance!)
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And, of course, I somehow managed to not get any pics of the mint tea by itself; however, here’s a great photo (thanks to my friend’s layout) of the appetizer, Ener-G rolls & the tea. You can get this tea hot or cold (I asked for cold but got hot, which was fine) It uses green tea and fresh mint. So amazing. Can’t get any better than that! And you get as many refills as you want–that’s a win!
|Perfect meal, if you ask me! I might just go and order this next time!|
Then it was onto the entree. Since both of us got lemon chicken, I’ll add his thoughts in this too. First off, the presentation was lovely. It was a 1/2 of a chicken (bone in), which looks gorgeous on a plate. Personally, I am not a huge fan of bone-in chicken just because it’s more difficult to cut, etc. but it does make the chicken more flavorful and tender.
|Lemon Chicken – braised half chicken with garlic, green olives, and preserved lemon|
As you can see, it was a rather large portion. Yes, we were full by the end (and we got dessert!). Overall, we both liked the dish but I personally thought it needed more lemon flavor. I found the lemon flavor a bit sedate in this dish. We both agreed that the dish needed more olives (I only had 3). The potatoes were very well cooked. The white meat was a little dry, but the darker chicken meat was fall off the bone tender. The biggest win was the sauce. It was soooo delicious. We both felt the flavors needed a little oooomph but overall found the sauce delicious (just not really lemon chicken sauce). In general, we both thought this was a good dish (he’s ordered it before and really loved it). Personally, I might go for the kebobs the next time. I think the kebobs, rice, and hummus are more up my alley of flavor profiles (I remember the kebobs to be very flavorful). I do think this was a good dish though and would def. order again. It just probably wouldn’t me my personal first choice.
Up next, was dessert. My friend keeps raving about this fruit dessert with orange blossom water, so I had to try it. The dessert is a variation of the: Marrakesh Delight – fresh fruit salad topped with mint ice cream, toasted almonds and orange blossom water. My friend can’t have the mint ice cream either because it contains gluten, so we both had the fruit. Wow! This was delicious!! And huge! They were very generous with the fruit. My favorite part was the orange juice and orange blossom water combination. To die for! Here’s a tip. You can re-create it at home yourself by using orange juice and orange blossom water, which you can purchase at the Morocco Pavilion! (Be warned a little bit goes a LONG way!). I believe the bottles of Orange Blossom Water are $8.99 but will last a very long time.
|One of my favorite ways to have fruit now! Very unique and delicious!|
Overall, I’m giving Restaurant Marrakesh a solid 7 out of 10. I find the food to be fairly good and the GF/DF even vegetarian and vegan offerings to be decent. It has terrific atmosphere which is a huge plus for this restaurant, and I wouldn’t hesitate to come back. It’s a wonderful place for families, adults, kids…really anyone wanting a nice meal in the World Showcase!
Have you been to Restaurant Marrakesh? What did you think?