The wonderful Jamie had organised a meal out last weekend at Assilah Bistro, a family run Moroccan BYO restaurant in Totterdown. Now I completely trust Jamie's recommendations she expects a high standard of food and it has to be well flavoured, every place she has said was good has turned out to be spot on. So 6 of us travelled to Totterdown, a pretty much unexplored area for me, to Assilah for 8pm.
|Assilah from the Outside
Assilah inside is really nicely decorated, lots of Moroccan style mirrors, draped cloths, cushions and ornaments really makes the place feel like you are somewhere far away. The back room, which we didn't dine in on this occasion, was decked out more Moroccan lounge style with low seats and more soft furnishings, I hope next time we will get to dine out there.
|much to look at inside
The menu at Assilah is fairly short but all the Moroccan bases are covered with staples of tagine, grills and falafel. It didn't take us long to decide what to eat nearly everyone on our table prompted for the same dish, Chicken Megrebi, bar two and we shared a couple of starters. Rich and I had bought a nice bottle of Spanish red to enjoy with our food and so our table got settled into chat mode.
Whilst Rich and I decided to share some falafel as we can never resist these delicious balls of chickpea charm, Jamie and Boz picked the sardine charmoulla dish. The hummus that accompanied the falafel dish was very tasty but the falafels were lacking somewhat, we found them a little dry. After sampling the sardines I realised Jamie had won this round. The grilled sardines were so good, flavoured with coriander, harissa and garlic amongst other things, it was superbly seasoned and really delicious. What was good was that it was not something I probably would think to order but I definitely would next time, that is how good the sardines were.
As you can see the portions are very generous so you certainly won't go away hungry. Four of us went for the chicken megrebi, a whole poussin which was cooked in ginger, honey and saffron topped with flaked almonds and boiled eggs. This was some of the best Moroccan food I have ever had. The flavour of the sauce was just the right side of sweet with some whole apricots sunken down into the dish like little hidden amber treasures. The chicken was juicy and full of flavour, I would be hard pressed not to order this again as it was so good.
Rich went for the lamb meshwi, it arrived and the amount of meat on the plate was sizeable. The lamb was marinated with Moroccan spices and chargrilled the meat was full of flavour and really good quality meat. Mar, one of our other dining companions, picked the seafood tagine which was full of cod, mussels and prawns in a tomato based sauce, proclaimed very good. All mains came with cous cous or rice and salad.
We were pretty full by the end, a whole poussin is quite an undertaking but we decided to order two portions of baklava and some mint tea for the table.
|Just one of the portions of baklava
Each plate came with 7 pieces of this classic Moroccan sweet, which makes me very grateful we didn't order more as this was more than enough for 6 of us. Great baklava, it is easily one of my guilty pleasures, I am glad I don't come across it too often because I can easily eat a couple of pieces, which for a person with not such a sweet tooth is quite a feat.
I could not recommend Assilah Bistro enough, home spun authentic Moroccan food in a relaxed atmosphere with friendly service. Yes we had to wait a bit longer for the food but in such nice surroundings and company I really didn't mind. The corkage is £2 and so all in all I think for 3 courses we paid just over £15 each which is pretty good going for a Saturday night. If you want to know a bit more about Assilah Bistro check out their website.