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Sunday, March 27, 2005

Out of Africa, Manly

Sipping hot sweet mint tea brings you back to a carpet-selling souq in Fes, where your t-shirt and shorts instantly label you as a bumbling foreigner, your brain is addled by the stifling heat, and a small but determined Moroccan is trying to convince you that the carpet that lays between you, really is an unbelievable bargain.

We're not quite in Fes, but rather in wet and miserable Manly, having chugged our way across the harbour on the ferry. Specifically we're in Out of Africa, a restaurant which specialises in Moroccan food.

The restaurant is but a stone's throw from the ferry wharf and is located down a short series of stairs in a somewhat open basement. Upstairs is the reality-TV restaurant Pink Salt from My Restaurant Rules (aha--yes, this was the night I went on my photo espionage assignment!)

Inside it felt like a warm cavern with flickering tealights, wooden tables and chairs, and a funky zebra print lounge which ran down an entire length of the restaurant.

We were a ravenous party of eight and elected to share a number of dishes together. Maximum taste testing--and saves on plate swapping and fork passing in the process too!

Mixed Dips $14.50
Gourmet presentation served with a variety of ethnic bread

That night's dips were (left to right) sweet potato and leek, capsicum and broadbean. Beautifully presented, the winner was definitely the sweet potato dip which was licked clean (quite literally). The capsicum was ok although many thought the broadbean was a little mealy. Somewhat like hummus but without the garlic!

Soul Sardines $12.50
Fresh filleted sardines marinated in a blend of exotic herbs and spices, lightly panfried and immersed in a spicy tomato sauce

Yum! Very tasty.

Breathless Briouats $12.50
Filo cigar pastries filled with spiced marinated chicken and almonds

To my surprise, this was one of my favourites of the night. Tender pieces of chicken fillet with tasty spices in a light filo package and drizzled with an orangey sauce.

Da'la aux Dates $25.50
Tender oven baken pork cutlet, marinated in a sweet, tangy blend of honey and dates, sweet cinnamon and orange juice water blossom served with delicate Morrocan couscous

This was my other favourite dish of the night. I'm not a huge fan of sweet meats, but pork and sugar inexplicably marry well together (like char siu and lemongrass pork chops etc etc). This was served with baby figs and delicate almond slivers. I'm a sauce afficianado so I kept on spooning the remnants of the sweet marinade all over my couscous! :-P

Afro BBQ Chicken $23.50
Tender chicken marinated in vinegar, cumin, parsley, chilli and garlic, served with crushed avocado and spiced pontiac wedges

I expected a chicken on the carcass so I was surprised when chicken breast fillets arrived. I'm not a huge chicken breast fan--I find the meat is easily overcooked, dry and tacky on the teeth. This chicken was okay, and the potatoes were pretty tasty.

Fish Turban Tajine $24.50
Tasty fish tajine adorned with our famous spicy tomato charmoula, preserved lemon and moroccan spices

Ahhh... the arrival of the tagine is always a spectacular event. The fish (which we think was possibly blue-eyed cod) was tender and the vegetables and stock full of flavour. Just be careful you don't start chomping on the yellow stuff... it's not celery, but preserved lemon peel!

Couscous Royale $42.50 for minimum of 2
Grand combination of lamb and chicken pieces, merguez sausages served in a sizzling hot plate and a separate serving of vegetables as a very tasty broth
(this picture missing the couscous and vegetables)

With mountains of food on our table it took us a while to twig that something seemed to be missing. Surely the $42 couscous royale couldn't be just this?

Eventually we received clarification from the waiter that yes, we were missing the couscous and the vegetables, and the bill would be adjusted (I had also had to remind them earlier in the evening--when our mains plates had arrived--that an entree was missing and yet to be served)

Without the couscous and vegetables this dish was a bit of a carnivore's delight. I found myself forgoing much of this dish for more of the pork though.

Date and Kahlua crepes $11.90

Irish coffee

Moroccan chocolate cake with dates and almonds $12.90

This dense rich fruity chocolate cake reminded me somewhat of a melted chocolate panforte. I'm not sure how Moroccan this is (I don't recall seeing much chocolate at all in Morocco) but I sure was glad I had elected to share this decadent dessert!

Moroccan mint tea

Unfortunately there were no traditional tiny glass cups etched with filigree gold and the tea was a little sickeningly sweet, but the mint tea was still a refreshing way to end a tasty banquet. And I wasn't even asked if I wanted to buy a carpet...

Daily specials board

Out of Africa
43-45 East Esplanade, Manly
Tel: 02 9977 0055

3 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Anonymous on 3/27/2005 12:33:00 am


  • At 3/27/2005 6:54 am, Blogger Ms One Boobie said…

    Wat a delightful meal ..AG.. :)

  • At 3/27/2005 10:04 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    Wow, looks great! When we visited Marrakech last year, every meal was such a feast. I really love all the nuts and dry fruits incorporated into the dishes, and the mint tea! If the pigeon pie is on the menu you should try!

  • At 3/29/2005 5:30 pm, Blogger Veruca Salt said…

    Looks nice but fruit and meat together? Not my cup of tea.

    The Zebra lounges look very familiar. Ex-PLanet Hollywood me thinks.


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