Today on the Dining Diaries…
Carpet and guns on the walls,
America Ferrera is now waiting tables and
Food that has us saying “we’re coming back” just after a couple of bites.
A “riad” is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard.
Le Riad is a place that’s almost hidden even though it’s situated on a main road and right by a very popular pub/restaurant. This place had been recommended to me by someone I trust so I was eager to try the food.
They advertise as having real Moroccan cuisine and when I looked at the menu on line, I knew I was going to have trouble ordering as everything sounded good and new (to me)
I wondered if I should even make a booking but when we got there I was glad we did as there was only one table available and that was for us. The place was packed!
The first thing we noticed was the deadened sound. In other places we go to, due to modern decor, every clang and chink is amplified as sound bounces off every surface but at Le Riad, the carpet on the floor and the rugs on the wall deaden it all.
It had me feeling a little unsettled at first!
The next thing we noticed were the guns on the wall. Although this unnerved us a little too, there was still something homey and comfortable about the place. We couldn’t put our finger on it just then but later we noticed that there were both families and couples dining and not one person (bar me) had their phone out! Can you imagine that? In a crowded albeit small restaurant, no one was playing with their phone.
I felt like I’d been picked up and thrown into another time and country.
It was also very red and very dark in there. I tried to take some photos but they were all poor quality, as with pictures of the food I took, there just wasn’t enough light.
Having said that, if your aim is to have a nice romantic dinner and you have no need to photograph your food, then you are in for a treat.
We looked through the menu and on each page I changed my mind about what I was going to eat. Everything seemed so exciting to me! Lots of authentic dishes to choose from.
I ended up ordering the Goat Tajine – Goat and mixed vegetables gently cooked with a mix of Moroccan herbs and spices.
Hubby ordered the Mixed Grill – Lamb, chicken, kefta, merguez sausage, served with hummus and bread.
And just because we wanted to sample more, we ordered Lamb Couscous – A traditional Moroccan dish.Couscous is steamed over spiced lamb and vegetables
I also desperately wanted to try some of the Moroccan bread they had on the menu but sadly they were out.
Our waitress was so lovely, friendly and accommodating and bore a striking resemblance to America Ferrara.
We arrived at the restaurant just before 7.30pm. At 8.18pm I noticed that our food hadn’t arrived yet. In any other place I would have noticed this a lot sooner but there is a lot to take in on your first visit to Le Riad.
You can only see so many dishes of hot steaming food going out to other tables before food envy sets in.
At 8.23 and tummies are really gurgling now… but let me add, we were happy. We weren’t grumpy, we were just more excited to try what we had ordered.
8.26 and America Ferrara look alike comes and sincerely apologises for the wait and offers us free drinks. Now how lovely is that! We hadn’t complained, we were sitting there smiling and talking, yet she still came over with this lovely gesture! Double ticks for that!
Ten or so minutes later our food came. I just love it when the first thing you notice about your food is the smell! It was heavenly and not like anything I had smelt before so it’s a little hard for me to describe. I don’t know what traditional Moroccan spices are.
It was definitely hearty and rich and just what you’d want on a fresh Autumn night.
My Goat Tajine was exquisite.
Again, I have to apologise for the picture quality as it was really very dark in there.
Hopefully you can imagine how wonderful this dish was. Rich with flavour and colourful it was very very inviting to eat. I felt like I’d been transported to deliciousness heaven.
The goat was amazingly tender and I had to wonder why we don’t eat this meat more often.
Hubby, being a meat lover, ordered the mixed grill and he wasn’t disappointed either.
A nice sized dish with lovely elements. The meat and bread had a charred smokey taste
The hummus was fresh and lovely when eaten with that crispy bread.
.There really wasn’t anything we didn’t like!
Lastly we sampled our Lamb Couscous. I must admit, I found it hard to find pieces of lamb but even so, it was equally delicious. The cous cous was light and springy and I loved the burst of coriander I tasted every now and then. I wondered later if I had ordered a chicken cous cous, if it would have given me a different flavour throughout as I didn’t think the lamb taste was particularly strong however still a very enjoyable dish.
All in all we loved our time at Le Riad. The restaurant is comfortable, the wait staff are lovely and I’m pretty sure this is a family run business. They genuinely want you to have a good time and to love the food as much as they do.
On Saturday’s they also have a belly dancer come in and do some belly dancing. It’s a shame we didn’t go on a Saturday! That would have been a treat!
I’m eager to go back and try some more items from the menu.
Have you been to Le Riad?
What did you think?
Let me know in the comments below!!
Till next we chow…