In a word: Watch me pull a Rabat out of my hat.
The specs: #00963
5510 University Ave., 53705
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JM ate the chicken kebab.
Nichole ate the lamb tagine and the muhammara.
The bill was $34, or $17/person, plus tip.
JM gave Marrakesh a B-; Nichole gave Marrakesh an A- (see our grading rubric).
Marrakesh has been open on University Avenue for two and a half years by the time we finally, officially, ate there together. Nichole had snuck in before JM shortly after Marrakesh opened in winter 2013, and enjoyed her meal then; the trick for us is that Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines are not exactly JM's favorites, so sometimes it's a hard sell. But if a place can make a good kebab, all is well.
Marrakesh's chicken kebab, sadly, was a little dry, which may be the fashion, but the herby yogurt sauce was little help. The grilled vegetables (green beans, squash, zucchini) were plentiful but could have used a little more char. Finally, the rice was boring and familiar with just a bit of herbs, and here is the beginning of the divergence between his and Nichole's opinions. JM found Marrakesh no substitute for Faouzi's.
Nichole finds it hard to pass up mouhamara, that variably-spelled walnut and roasted red pepper dip. Marrakesh's execution of it (in this one batch) was very nutty and not too darkly roasted, heavy on the cumin and garlic and served with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses. Fresh warm pita accompanied the hearty appetizer.
The lamb tagine here was very good - richly spiced, super-tender meat, with tasty peas, beans and potatoes, but incongruous carrots that seemed to be the bagged, pre-shaped "baby" kind.
It was, in fact, at a meal at Dardanelles circa 2002 that we realized how different our tastes really were. At the time this was a point of conflict (and still can be if one or both of us is hungry and the next place is inaccessible) but if we agreed on everything, we never would have started eating in Madison A to Z. So, anyway, we were reminded of all this backstory by our pleasant meal at Marrakesh.