Sidi Maarouf is the only Moroccan-themed link in the Maroush chain of Lebanese restaurants. However, Maghrebi dishes may not show the kitchen’s strengths.
Bastilla was a pin-cushion of pastry with a pleasing filling of ginger- and cinnamon-spiced chicken, presented with fresh orange and mint. But the briwats were a bit greasy; the lamb, and spinach and goat’s cheese versions were preferable to the crab, which wasn’t as fresh as it could have been.
A tagine of meltingly tender lamb shank with almonds and sesame was served on a plain white plate, alongside the soggy steamed veg that can be an unfortunate feature of tagine cooking. And vegetable couscous was a miserable affair – and rotten value – for big, floppy slices of carrot, courgette, cabbage and turnip, some chickpeas and a spicy sauce. Never mind the pottery vessel, authenticity isn’t always what you want. Pistachio pastries sweetened the bill (which includes a cover charge at dinner).
There is a sense of occasion, thanks to chandeliers, billowing gold drapes, numerous though not especially attentive staff and, towards the end of the week, live music with belly dancing. The streetside terrace, scented with the aroma of apple tobacco, is a surprisingly cosy and female-friendly place to enjoy a shisha.