It has been so long since I have been to Tagine, a Moroccan restaurant located closed to the heart of Times Square. So, as we were looking for a place to eat on Columbus Day, and craving a good couscous (the dish, not just the semolina), we booked a table.
When we arrived, I was surprised to see a fairly big place, remembering a smaller dining room where diners were very close to the belly dancers who are still entertaining the crowd 6 nights a week. Going inside the restaurant is like stepping in into another country, far from the busy area that is Times Square. However, it was not as hospitable as restaurants would be in Morocco: when we arrived, there was a woman who gave us a nasty look, not even greeting us or taking care of us, yelling something to a poor guy in the kitchen, surely to let him know some patrons were there. Then, the music was extremely loud and they first complied to lower it, but only for a few minutes, putting it back to a level that was not enjoyable. Knowing that we were the only ones in the place, it translated into: we do not care about the comfort of our customers. The last issue concerned our tea: we ordered a Moroccan mint tea with our meal, but they only brought it at the end, after a first reminder. Disappointing.
Anyway, here is what we had:
Semolina Bread with chermoula and harissa:
Maaquda, potato croquettes rolled in semolina: crispy and not greasy, I liked it.
Merguez with shekshouka (slowed cooked eggplant and peppers): it was definitely small for a $24 dish and is more an appetizer than an entree. The merguez was dry as over cooked, but fortunately the shekshouka was quite good.
Couscous royal, made with vegetables, lamb, chicken and merguez. This was pretty good: the meat was perfectly cooked with the lamb falling off the bone and the merguez being much better than the previous dish. And the fine semolina was superb.
And then, finally, the mint tea that was delicious.
Overall the food was good, but I think that the service at Tagine and the high prices spoiled the experience. Too bad: there are not that many Moroccan restaurants in the city. Well, maybe this should be my new food quest!
Enjoy (I did)!
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Tagine - 221 W 38th St, New York, NY 10018