Friday, 24 January 2014
Birthday Dinner at The Sultan's Tent, Toronto
I am very fond of Moroccan cuisine and I had been meaning to go to this place for years. I figured my 28th birthday was just as good a time as any. I was joined by my best friend, Michelle. The Sultan's Tent & Café Moroc is located at 49 Front St East in downtown Toronto. It is near Toronto's St Lawrence Market, which is a foodie paradise and one of my favourite places in the world. The decor of the restaurant is beautifully exotic. There are tapestries, hardwood floors, lanterns, veiled tents, tassels and beaded curtains all accompanied with ambient Arabic music.
Dinner consists of four courses: soup or salad, an appetizer, a main course and a dessert. All meals are finished off with complimentary sweet mint tea, a Moroccan custom. The dishes range from traditional Moroccan fare to slightly more modern. Rice, for example, is available in Morocco but not widely consumed. Moroccans tend to prefer bread or couscous as their starch. Although there are dishes at the Sultan's Tent & Café Moroc that feature rice pilaf. There are several choices for the app, main course and dessert to choose from. some are included in the prix fixe, others require additional charges. Depending on what you order, dinner there can be pricey but if you can it's never a bad idea to indulge on a special occasion now and then.
The restaurant also has nightly belly dancing shows which are very entertaining and add an undeniable charm to the experience. If you get the chance to dine there, you can check their web-site for the scheduled belly dancing shows so that you do not miss them. I seldom get to have dining experiences like this so it was a real treat for me.
When I auditioned for an apron on MasterChef Canada I prepared a classic Moroccan dish. I made a beef tagine with sweetened prunes, couscous and fried almonds. Be sure to check the blog next week to hear all about how the audition went!
For the first course, you are given the option of soup or salad. Since there were two of us, we decided to order 1 of each and share. Michelle got the garden greens with a pomegranate vinaigrette.
I got the soup, which was harira. Harira is a tomato based soup with beans, lentils and spices. It was delicious.
For the second course we got to choose from a list of appetizers. Michelle ordered the crab cakes infused with Moroccan spices.
I ordered the chicken bastilla starter. I have always wanted to try bastilla. There are different fillings you can make but a common variety is a filling of chicken, almonds, onion, garlic and aromatic spices wrapped in crispy phyllo dough and dusted with ground cinnamon and powdered sugar. I had always been so intrigued but skeptical of the icing sugar and chicken combination. It was actually pretty tasty. Moroccan cuisine has an interesting way of marrying deep earthy flavours with subtle sweetness. This dish was no exception.
We both ordered tagines for our main courses. Michelle ordered the Keskesu Casablanca: an assortment of braised vegetables arranged on a bed of couscous with a tomato based sauce and preserved butter. It was a beautiful and colourful dish.
I ordered the Couscous Royale which was a feast unto itself. It is a beef kebab, a merguez sausage and a leg of "Chicken Marrakech" (chicken tagine with preserved lemon and spices) on a bed of couscous with brussel sprouts, chickpeas, carrot and parsnip with a tomato based sauce. It was as fantastic as it was filling.
Michelle requested a crème brûlée topped with chopped pistachios. she was generous enough to let me try some. It was gorgeous!
I ordered a "chocolate oasis" which was a rich flourless dark chocolate cake that melted in your mouth. Since it was my birthday, they served it to me with a lit candle. lol.
We ate every bite and left with very full bellies, but not before tea. It is Moroccan custom to finish a feast off with hot mint tea sweetened with honey and sometimes a modest splash of orange blossom water. Drinking tea after any meal is remarkably good for your digestion. I am a fan of mint tea too. It was a beautiful flavour. Tea served in traditional Moroccan style does not come in cups of ceramic, china or clay but intricately hand painted tinted glass.
I would definitely recommend this restaurant. The service, food and ambiance all delivered positive experiences. It may not be your most inexpensive dinner option in downtown Toronto but you can choose options that stay within the prix fixe. They also participate in Summer and Winterlicious which is a highly anticipated event that many restaurants in Toronto take part in. Each restaurant creates a special three to four course menu which stays within a price range of $15 to $45 (for a couple of weeks semi-annually) that patrons can enjoy and allows more people to experience great food no matter who they are. I love my city!
Well, that's it. If you get a chance to eat here, be sure that you do. You can call them to book a reservation at 416-961-0601. If you've eaten there I'd love to hear what you thought by posting a comment below.
It was a great dinner and an even greater birthday! A big thank you to the Sultan's Tent and to Michelle for making it possible.
Take care and stay tuned for many more exciting posts in the very near future!