Monday, November 23, 2009
was very much looking forward to our meal at Aziza , the Moroccan restaurant with the Michelin star, with the trendy twists on a cuisine known for its exotic spicing . I have made my own version of couscous for years( brothy, saffrany,with thyme and cumin) and was curious to see the chef's spin on it.
The restaurant is down on Geary blvd, close to the Legion of Honor museum,which is quite a trek.In other words, it would have to be a stellar performance to induce a come back visit. The glass door at the front makes you believe that the space is modern, but upon entering , you are face to face with an ali baba harem room gone Hollywood by way of the medina, all pinks and blues with moorish arches over tables.I liked the red chandeliers and the black and whites print of horses in front of Moroccan buildings, otherwise, despite its attempts at warmth ,it was tacky and left me cold.
I have to say that the food was very, very good.We started with an apetizer of"spreads".my photos are horrible, and I have to confess that I had about 1/2 second for each, as my friends were declaring loudly a state of starvation and that I had the time for one shot each, but still it gives you a sense of the presentation if nothing else.The spreads were creamy to the point of richness, but delicious against the grilled pitas.My friends shared a couple of other appetizers that they declared superb( the meatballs with raisins, the squid) and I moved on to the couscous.Presentation wise,I rate it a :2, taste, a :10. I was disappointed with the lack of invention and home style plating( booooring)but it definitively made up in taste:it was a vegetarian version and true to form, included carrots, turnips, garbanzos, the plumpest raisins,almonds and also rutabagas which I have not seen before in the traditional couscous, which will have zucchini instead( I guess that switch was a nod to the seasonality of root vegetables).It was not brothy at all and I was afraid of it being dry.But it was moist,hearty,spiced just right, and so rich that I think that the vegetables had been stewed with butter.
We shared 2 deserts, and the waitress neglected to advise us that both were similar in case we wanted to consider something else.The service, in fact was lazy.I never felt taken care of.too bad.Now, how did they get that star with that service? On the other hand, I didn't have the exact change for the valet ( he did not either, moment of awkwardness there), and as I was seated, I asked for change and got it promptly,It was the least they could do.We left the place without a glance from the bar staff or anyone, but the valet told us to wait inside since it was cold and that he would come get us.He was really nice.