Today, Disney Food Blog welcomes back guest author Joey Beyer with another “hidden gem” review of dinner at Restaurant Marrakesh in Epcot’s Morocco pavilion. Man, I think it’s time I went back to this place!
While I am always excited to write a piece for the Disney Food Blog, this review is particularly special for me because I get to write about one of my absolute favorite restaurants: Restaurant Marrakesh.
Nestled in the very back of Epcot’s Morocco Pavilion, Restaurant Marrakesh is a truly unique and authentic experience. An argument could easily be made that Morocco is the most authentic and immersive World Showcase pavilion.
As a result of the restaurant being somewhat hidden at the very back of the pavilion, there is a kiosk right on the promenade where interested parties can make a reservation and look at the menu. There are always cast members at this kiosk to answer any questions people may have.
In addition to these amenities, there is a book containing pictures of most of the menu items. This same book can be found on a table outside of the entrance to Restaurant Marrakesh.
Many people seem to be a bit apprehensive towards Moroccan cuisine, and for that reason it is usually possible to walk up and get a table here. My most recent trip was in late July through early August, and I had no trouble getting a table around 6 PM. So, if you find yourself without an ADR and want to eat a table service meal, this is a fantastic option even during peak Summer crowd levels.
My dining partner was unsure about Moroccan food, so we actually did stop at the promenade kiosk so he could look at the menu.
While he was doing so, I struck up a conversation with one of the cast members there. Her name was Hatya and it was only her second week in Florida. I am always curious to find out how authentic or inauthentic the menu is at restaurants serving ethnic cuisine. I was delighted to hear from her that the menu is very authentic, and that many of the items are similar to what she would eat in her hometown of Tangiers. Hatya and I were able to sell my companion on Restaurant Marrakesh, so off we went!
Whether you have an Advance Dining Reservation or do a walk up, I would highly encourage taking the time to casually stroll through the Morocco pavilion.
It may look somewhat bland from the promenade, but as you wind through the narrow medina streets and see the gorgeous tile work, hear the sounds of a bustling marketplace with authentic Moroccan music, and smell incense, it truly feels like you are in the heart of a Moroccan city. As you reach the back of the pavilion you will find the doorway to the restaurant.
Upon stepping into Restaurant Marrakesh, it is hard to not be awed by the gorgeous architecture and interior design of the room. The ceiling features beautiful tiling, and the light fixtures are truly remarkable.
In the center of the room is a small stage where two musicians play authentic Moroccan music. I asked our server, and he told me that the songs played are more on the traditional side, but there are a few contemporary pieces mixed in.
There is also a small dance floor in front of the stage where a belly dancer performs every hour. The restaurant is truly a multi-sensory experience, but the piece de resistance is indeed the food.
I began the meal by trying the Casa Beer, which is imported from Morocco. The restaurant also has a good selection of Moroccan wines.
The beer has a rich amber color that is characteristic of many lagers. It is a bit “hoppier” than the average lager, but I tend to enjoy that extra bitter flavor so it was a welcome choice for me. If you generally enjoy American lagers (e.g. Samuel Adams), you will most likely enjoy Casa Beer.
Restaurant Marrakesh features a variety of appetizers, and my personal favorite is the appetizer combination for two. It comes with an order of the Beef Brewat Rolls, Chicken Bastilla, and the Jasmina Salad.
All three of these items have very bold flavors. The salad features lettuce, olives, feta, and diced tomatoes. It is topped with a very light and tasty mustard vinaigrette dressing.
As its name suggests, the dressing does have the distinctive flavor of mustard, but it is also slightly sweet. It blends very well with the rest of the salad.
The beef brewat rolls and chicken bastilla are both lightly fried, topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar, and are made up of many layers of thin pastry. The texture of the pastry is very similar to baklava.
The beef rolls feature only beef, while the chicken bastilla features diced almonds in addition to the finely minced chicken. Both of these items have very unique flavors and textures. The cinnamon and powdered sugar creates a very unique sweet flavor, and actually creates a sensation of dryness. However, once you reach the inside of the pastry the rich taste of the very tender meat mixes with the initial flavor to create an overall savory taste. The crunch of the pastry also creates a nice contrast to the texture of the meat that is inside.
For the main course, I branched out from my usual chicken couscous and ordered the lemon chicken. Green olives and zucchini accompany the chicken, and the sauce on top includes garlic and the preserved lemons.
The overall lemon flavor is very subtle. The truly outstanding thing about this entrée is the chicken itself. Just like the chicken couscous, this chicken is incredibly tender and juicy, with a very robust flavor.
When I asked a cast member in the Morocco pavilion, they mentioned that Moroccan cuisine relies heavily on herbs as opposed to spices, which creates these very subtle additional flavors while making the meat itself have a more bold taste.
I truly enjoyed the lemon chicken. It was a welcome change from the couscous, but on a future visit I will most likely return to the couscous or try another new dish. I definitely would not discourage anyone from trying this entrée.
My dining companion chose the couscous with lamb shank, which is accompanied by carrots, chick peas, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes. The couscous is very fine, but has a delicious grain flavor.
One caveat when eating the couscous is that it has a tendency to get caught in the back of your throat, since the individual pieces are so small. It makes for a somewhat embarrassing and uncontrollable cough. I have experienced this before, as did my dining partner on this occasion. He commented to me that the lamb was very tender and juicy with a very bold flavor. After one or two bites, the meat actually just fell right off of the bone.
Unfortunately, we were both too full after our entrees to follow through with our initial plan to order dessert. Instead we both bought snacks later on in the evening before IllumiNations. I have never been hungry enough to eat dessert at Restaurant Marrakesh, but I really hope to change that soon!
I hope this review will help everyone that is on the fence decide in favor of trying Restaurant Marrakesh. It is a truly unique dining experience, and the food is exceptional.
Have you had the chance to dine at Restaurant Marrakesh? I am looking forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts!