I took the opportunity to do a wine pairing dinner at Restaurant Marrakesh during the 2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival, which was a nice introduction. We decided to give it a try for a full meal on a recent visit.
Restaurant Marrakesh is the prize at the end of the Morocco maze in Epcot‘s World Showcase. Once you wind your way through the gorgeous alleyways, museum, and shops of the pavilion, you end up at the huge arched doorway of the restaurant.
Walking into Restaurant Marrakesh is like exploring a Sultan’s palace. Everywhere you look there’s rich velvets, silks, and tapestries. Intricate, hand-lain zellige tile work and plaster carvings done by artisans sent by the King of Morocco himself decorate the entire restaurant from floor to ceiling. Delicate metal urns, teapots, and glassware give the impression that you’re about to partake in a treasured meal. And soldered, etched stained glass chandeliers hang from heavy chains to dimly light the massive room. It is clearly a restaurant fit for — and designed by — a King.
If you’re lucky (and most people are), you’ll be serenaded by Moroccan musicians and entertained by a real, live belly dancer! Sometimes the kids in the restaurant are invited to come up and learn a bit of dancing as well. It’s a great way for Epcot to do what it does best — teach new cultures in an immersion environment. Very fun!
Now, on to the food. Like I said, I promise you’ll find something you can eat here. Restaurant Marrakesh has learned over the years that not all patrons are adventurous eaters, so they’ve placed picture menus at the front of the Morocco pavilion as well as at the entrance to Restaurant Marrakesh. Before you dine, flip through the book of appetizers, entrees, and desserts to determine what you’d like to try — and how you’d like to modify your chosen dish if necessary. If you want a piece of plain chicken, just ask for it. Nobody will even bat an eyelash.
That said, this is also an opportunity to venture out of your comfort zone and try some new cuisine. Many gourmands thoroughly enjoy Restaurant Marrakesh. Who knows — you might find a new favorite food!
On our visit, we both ordered the Taste of Morocco Royal Feast, which included Harira Soup, a Beef Brewat Roll, Chicken and Beef Kebabs, Potatoes, Lamb Sausage, and Assorted Moroccan Pastries.
Our service began with the Harira Soup, a traditional soup flavored with tomatoes, lamb, and lentils; and the Beef Brewat Roll, pastry layers stuffed with seasoned, minced beef, fried, and sprinkled with powdered sugar. I did NOT like the Harira Soup (hey — I said I was a picky eater, but at least I tried it!). It was flavored with cilantro, which is an herb I am vehemently against — it tastes like I’m eating metal. But those who love cilantro (like my husband) will love this soup. The Beef Brewat Roll was a winner for both of us. The savory taste of the beef coupled with the sweet powdered sugar might not be a homerun for everyone, but I thought it gave the appetizer a great depth of flavors.
Next up came huge platters with the chicken and beef kebabs, assorted sauces, a tomato salad, potatoes, and skewered lamb sausages (basically — meat and potatoes!!). I thought this was delicious, and although it was served on a massive plate, the amount of food was not excessive. We didn’t feel stuffed when we finished this portion. By the way, according to the current menu, this option has changed slightly, but all of the components of this dish are still on the menu.
Finally, we were treated to assorted pastries, which turned out to be two different types of baklava. Oh. My. Goodness. I thought I was a chocolate person, but this baklava is one of the best desserts I’ve found. It’s small enough to be just the right amount of sweet after this meal, and the buttery pastries and filling are deceptively rich!
Like I said, a lot of folks are a bit nervous to try out Restaurant Marrakesh, either because they’re not used to the cuisine, the culture, or both. But, like other World Showcase restaurants, their goal is to give you an immersive experience without shocking your system! Enjoy the subtle differences and sample the new cuisine.
Then again, there are those of you who consider Restaurant Marrakesh to be too “Americanized,” giving a less cultural experience than you’d prefer. If this is the case, understand that the restaurant is catering to a wide range of likes and dislikes, and that sometimes being located in a theme park means making a few concessions when it comes to cultural authenticity.
Restaurant Marrakesh has the difficult task of staying true to its goal of creating a culturally immersive experience while catering to a theme park crowd. It can’t be easy, which is probably why this spot is often kept off the lists of first-time visitors, but, in my opinion, it’s a fantastic restaurant in the midst of a truly breathtaking setting. I urge you to sample it at least once… .
By the way, if you’ve been to Restaurant Marrakesh, leave us a comment with your thoughts and menu suggestions!