By Shout Omaha Staff
When one hears a name like Marrakech Gourmet visions of Morocco, hookah pipes and sand come to mind, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I went into this restaurant adventure with somewhat high expectations. After all, from what I know about Morocco, it would be a great vacation destination. Since I can’t afford a trip there, I had to live with the closest thing, a trip to the local Moroccan restaurant.
Marrakech Gourmet is located at 504 N. 33rd street, not too far north of Mid-town Crossing. The exterior of the restaurant really doesn’t tell you much, aside from the name. Upon entering the restaurant you will notice a wide array of décor, ranging from stain glass walls that could either be depicting scenes from Southern American jungles or Northern African landscapes-you choose. The interior was rich with wood surfaces and ethnic, but not cheesy décor. There were a few Nebraska tchotchkes that felt highly out of place and irrelevant to the overall theme of the restaurant. The dining room was dimly lit, beyond the point of creating a romantic atmosphere. It was just way too dark, period. I had to pull out my cell phone to find the light switch for the restroom, it was that dark.
The restaurant seemed like a ghost town when we entered. There was not a soul in sight (we came to eat around 4 p.m.) and we had to holler in order to get noticed. Not a good start to our dining experience. A young chap who couldn’t have been old enough to see an R rated movie then led us to our table. It was obvious that this was his first job and he was nervous. At least he cared enough about his work to be nervous as opposed to the apathy you find all too often elsewhere these days. We went easy on the little guy and asked him to bring out his superior to help explain the menu to us. After he answered our barrage of questions, we placed our appetizer order for hummus with pita bread and carrots (the carrots were an added request that doesn’t normally come with the hummus). It’s important to note, the appetizer was the highlight of our experience at Marrakech. When it arrived, the hummus was slightly more liquefied than I am used to and it had olive oil drizzled on top of it. The pita bread was toasted slightly and the carrots were sliced into chips. The hummus and pita was amazing and I wish I made a meal of that, but I didn’t.
We went on to order veggie samosas to share, my partner in crime had the falafel salad and I went out on a limb and tried the burger-Mediterranean style, with fries. The first to arrive was the samosas and man were we surprised to see these tiny little egg roll-esque objects. They were much smaller than any samosa I was used to and the filling was atypical as well. Rather than finding the normal potatoes seasoned with cumin and cinnamon, we found something that resembled cabbage and tasted more like sauerkraut than anything that should be put in a samosa. It was not a great start to our meal.
Our main courses then arrived and my burger showed up sans fries and I had to remind them what I ordered (another bad sign). The falafel salad came drenched in oil and the dressing was a combination of blandness and plain olive oil flavor. The only good thing about the falafel salad was the falafel. My burger, which was a mixture of lamb and beef on a ciabatta bun, topped with mozzarella, lettuce and tomato was mediocre and I didn’t finish it. I looked at the burger as an opportunity for them to wow me with a unique dish and instead I was unimpressed and not satisfied. After I finished my burger my fries showed up, drenched in grease and way later than they should have come. Overall, it wasn’t a total wash, but I would need to see more of the best they have to offer in order to keep going back.