Sunday, June 15, 2008

Mid-City Moroccan: Chameau

I'm a late convert to Chameau, the Moroccan restaurant with the industrial-chic facade on Fairfax, but a convert I am.

Chameau has a hip, modern decor, full of dim lit colors and camel representations (chameau is French for camel). They specialize in traditional Moroccan cuisine: lamb, tagines, couscous, everything you need to pretend you're in Casablanca.

Appetizers were very good though not outstanding. A nice, if standard merguez sausage was served on a delicious hummous. Pan-fried, herb stuffed sardine was tasty. Duck bastilla with almonds and cinnamon, while good, was a bit too sweet.

The highlight of our meal was the various lamb entrees. Almond crusted lamb with orange sauce was my favorite. The lamb was perfectly cooked, crisp on the outside and nicely seasoned. The creamy orange sauce, while a bit too sweet was a nice counterpoint.

The braised lamb shoulder with prunes and pistachios had a nice, gamey, lamb taste.

Couscous was excellent, much more flavorful and better textured than other versions I've had. It was almost al dente in that you could make out the individual grains which gave it a pleasing texture.

The dessert bastilla was fun, a ring of berries sandwiched in a crisp, cinnamon sprinkled pastry, drizzled with cream and topped with whipped cream. I love their whipped cream, which is somewhat sour, probably made from creme fraiche instead of heavy cream, or maybe with some added sour cream. It made for a fabulous sweet/sour interplay.

Cinnamon flan was also well executed and topped with that same whipped cream.

The warm, flourless chocolate cake, however, was atrocious. This thing has been on every menu in the world for at least ten years now. Don't serve it unless you can get it right.

All in all, a great meal at one of our few local Moroccan spots. Next time, I will have to try a tagine.

339 N. Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 951-0039

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