Newest Review: ... dressed warmly enough and opted for the cosy inside area instead. The front of the restaurant looked very cramped with tiny tables hardly... more
Fizzywizzy Becomes Morocco Mole
Marrakech Avenue (Kingston-upon-Hull)
Member Name: fizzywizzy
Marrakech Avenue (Kingston-upon-Hull)
Advantages: Delicious food, nice interior, reasonable prices
Disadvantages: Really ought to book at weekends
The rather useful information pack in our room in Hull's IBIS hotel informed us that the Princes Avenue area is the place to head for good restaurants and nightlife and having read about a couple of restaurants we'd be happy to try we decided to head there for our Saturday night's entertainment.
The little map we had for the city centre didn't appear to show Princes Avenue so we made a quick visit to the Tourist Information Centre to ask for directions. The assistant there asked where we were thinking of eating and we told her that our first choice was Marrakech Avenue; she said she'd eaten there and that the food was very good. She also asked if we had a reservation and we did think about phoning in advance but decided not to as there appeared to be plenty of other restaurants in the area should we not be able to get in at our first choice.
By the time we'd watched Newcastle's opening game of the season and walked a little further to the restaurant it was about 7.30pm and the restaurant looked to be filling up. Princes Avenue is a very lively road with lots of bars, pubs and restaurants, not as crazy as Newcastle's infamous Bigg Market, and slightly less upmarket than our Osborne Road area. I must admit I had wondered earlier in the day when walking in the city centre where the restaurants were as there are not so many non-chain places in the centre so it was nice to get to Princes Avenue and find out that Hull is not a total culinary desert.
The restaurant looked very appealing, more so as the night got darker. Most of the tables inside appeared to be taken but we'd have been happy to eat a little later if necessary. A waitress came to the door and informed us that they were fully booked except for the outdoor tables but as it was a warm night we were happy to eat al fresco. We¬'d had a late lunch so we arranged to return in 45 minutes.
At the appointed time we returned to the restaurant and the waitress spotted us from inside and brought us a couple of menus. There are a good number of starters and a more limited selection of mains, most of which are tagines, traditional Moroccan stews, named for the earthenware pot with its distinctive conical lid, in which they are cooked.
Casablanca, a Moroccan beer ,is available but we picked a bottle of Argentine Malbec which was reasonably priced and worked well with our meaty mains. When the waitress brought it she asked if we wanted to pour it ourselves and we were happy to do that; the service at Marrakech Avenue was always friendly with a can-do attitude, though towards the end of the meal it became more difficult to get the attention of staff when we required it. When ordering I mentioned my nut allergy just in case the tagine contained almonds and I was confident when she told me that my chosen dish did not contain them. She told us that the main course that Himself had ordered did contain nuts but they could be omitted if we'd like; as I wanted to be able to try his dinner too, we asked for them to omit the nuts.
We decided to share some hummus and olives with pita bread to start. The hummus was clearly homemade and very good it was too; not too garlicky and with a very good texture. The portion was generous and we asked for extra pita bread which was given at no extra cost. The olives were excellent; marinated, I think in a harissa dressing, hot but not stupidly so; the quality of the olives was good and there was a mixture of different types.
Our main courses were presented in the tagines they had been cooked in; when our waitress lifted off the lids we were hit by the most delicious aromas. I had chosen a chicken tagine with preserved lemons, carrots and potatoes, and Himself had chosen a lamb tagine with prunes and potatoes. In both dishes the meat was beautifully tender and there was plenty of it.
I've been off carrots recently, finding them unbearably sweet and thought I'd probably leave them on my plate but they were actually very good, soft but not squidgy and with a bit of bite left. The preserved lemons, a common ingredient in tagines, were wonderful and added a lovely sharpness to this saffron fragranced dish. The potatoes were plentiful and were great for soaking up the flavoursome sauce.
Himself has long been of the opinion that meat and fruit shouldn't mix though, of late, he has mellowed slightly from this previously strongly entrenched view. I expressed surprise that he'd chosen a dish with prunes in it but he ate them all (except the couple that found their way with a couple of pieces of melt in the mouth lamb) and might have eaten the tagine too if he'd remembered to put some indigestion tablets in my handbag. The sweetness of the prunes was not overpowering and neither did the complex flavours of the sauce hide the tastiness of the lamb. Both sauces had a mild cinnamon flavour with the richness of cumin, the gentle scent of cardamom and the sweetness of honey. We were impressed!
I'd not been holding out much hope of a good dessert at north African desserts tend to be nut based but there were several appealing options on the menu, and not all of them chocolate based, there were some options such as a lemon and lime dessert that sounded like a refreshing pudding after a rich tagine. In the end I went for a simple portion of homemade vanilla ice-cream with honey; the waitress brought two spoons with the ice cream and even Himself, who is not a puddings person usually, put in a good account of himself. A silver pot of freshly made mint tea (made with real mint, not minty tea bags) and two little tea glasses were the finishing touch to our meal. I'm addicted to mint tea and always find it a good way of ensuring you don't leave the restaurant feeling like you might pop.
I would usually say something about the decor and ambience of a restaurant but I only passed through the interior very briefly when going to the toilet. It should be noted that the toilets for both men and women are on the first floor and if there is a wheelchair accessible toilet, I didn't spot it. I did get a chance to see that some effort has been made to create a Moroccan theme for the interior with lots of ornate lamps hanging from the ceiling and the use of richly brightly coloured and embroidered fabrics. It feels very cosy and looks great.
There were two cubicles in the ladies' toilets. The lighting there was very dim. There were two bulbs covered with carved wooden lamp covers; only one of them had a working bulb so I chose the cubicle that was best lit; unfortunately, that was the one with no loo paper. When I'd washed my hands I had a job tofind the hand drier: it had been painted the same dark red as the walls and was camouflaged in the darkness of the toilets.This was the only negative in a very pleasant and successful evening. Please Marrakech Avenue, give us some lights in the toilet and don't disguise the hand drier.
We really enjoyed our meal and I'd even go so far as to say I'd go back if I was in Hull again; this is particular rare as I usually like to try new places. The food was delicious and excellent value. We paid around £55 for one shared starter, two mains, a bottle of good wine, a pot of mint tea and ice cream.
Summary: Very good Moroccan restaurant in suburb of Hull
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