Moroccan at Agadir - The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort and Spa.

How many restaurants have you visited where as you approach it, you sense something special; something mysterious and enrapturing at the same time? Have you visited  a restaurant in recent times where, as you get closer to the entrance, you think to yourself how different it seems compared to many? This was certainly my first impressions as I walked in to Agadir at The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort and Spa. Furthermore, because the main entrance is via a side door through a place with a courtyard feel to it, you feel you are in for something authentic.

As I walked in, the only thing missing was the smell of spices. I kept thinking that some young child was going to run up to me and sell me something, as Moroccan music filled the air, for even though I had never travelled to Morocco, I felt I was being guided by Lonely Planet's Tony Wheeler into someone's house in Agadir, Morocco. Yes, this is no marketplace in Agadir. This is someone's home.

While we arrived for dinner, we were curious about the lunch special, and Chef graciously agreed to prepare it for us - I love it when chef's think outside of the 'rules', so to speak. We sat down and were offered refreshing cool hand towels.I don't know why more restaurants don't offer this. It is hot and muggy, so sometimes one just wants a moist hand towel to cool down. Nice touch.

A journey. That is the word that popped into my head. Our host Ibrahim and main waiter, Hicham, were replacing Tony Wheeler on this leg of the journey and would lead us by not only serving us, but teaching us. Agadir is a restaurant that certainly proves the axiom that if you sit down with a man to eat, you will learn more about him and his culture than you could imagine.
I fell in love with the china and cutlery. 

The restaurant is designed like a house, with curtains in places to give large groups privacy. Ornate chandeliers and lanterns give off soft light. Tea pots are abundant, reminding one of Morocco's rich history with tea. Then, of course, there is the tea room, with sofas and wooden floors, slightly elevated, asking for you to relax as you have some Moroccan tea.

After all of this, there is still the matter of the dishes. As I was enjoying a classic Moroccan song, "J'en Ai Marre" by Najat Aatabou, we started off with an amuse bouche of olives in oil and a Moroccan curry paste, to be enjoyed with bite size pieces of bread. The olive oil was decadently fragrant. I enjoyed this so much that I forgot it was just an amuse bouche, and I asked for another. Next up I had the harira, a Moroccan spicy soup with chick peas and green lentils. This dish, usually served during Ramadan when Moroccans break their fast, was heavy and flavorful.

With perfect timing between courses, our Moroccan salads and mixed briouates were brought. I liked that Hicham asked us if were ready for the next course. It speaks of a natural, non-robotic service that runs to a schedule. This is often the problem with set menus. but not here, thankfully.

The salads, exquisitely presented in tiny bowls allowed one to experience a wide range of flavours: there were carrots, potato, tomato and onion, beetroot, capsicum and egg plant. What held all these together was the North African marinade, chermoula. Apart from the beetroot that possessed a lovely tartness and sweetness, all the other salads were quite subtle in flavour. The mixed briouates, a selection of filo pastries with a variety of fillings were delicious. While I find Asian spring rolls (something similar) to be a bit oily, these were crispy but light.

In between all of this, we were treated to our waiter's sharp wit, who effortlessly engaged us; very relaxed indeed. In preparation for the main, another waiter, Cherkaoui, cleaned our table and removed all bread crumbs. Lovely touch again. Attentive.
The main dish was brought. Very theatrical; the mechoui or lamb shoulder on rice. Beautiful flavours with the natural taste of the lamb contrasting sharply with the richly flavored rice. The wonderful fragrance of annis flower seed could not be missed. Also, the cumin that goes with the lamb made it really tasty. Be warned though, the portion was huge, notwithstanding it was for two people. Finally, on the side we also had some vegetables prepared in a tagine. What stood out was that the vegetables still had that vegetable taste. They were not overwhelmed by being cooked too long or with spices.

Very relaxed setting for tea and dessert. 
What else but Moroccan tea?
Exotic fruit selection.
For dessert, off course, we moved to one of the tea rooms. This continued the sense that we were in someone's home. We had a simple dessert of fruit as well as some Moroccan cookies.

Agadir is more than a restaurant. It is a slice of culture and the waiting staff will gladly reveal this to you and some fascinating aspects of Moroccan culture, through food. It is visually  stunning, and will appeal to anyone who is tired of the beaten track, anyone looking for something different. Agadir represents a cultural experience to be savored. It is more than just food. It is a journey.

The low down

Agadir Moroccan Restaurant,
The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort and Spa
For reservations, call 02 616 9999 
or click here:

Family lunch price 159 AED
Friday and Saturdays

Brandon Stoltenkamp