Eating the Alphabet - M is Morocco in Gloucester
M is for… Morocco.
Our pick took us back to Gloucester and to the Café El Bahdja in Westgate Street.
By day the El Bahdja is a relaxed, friendly coffee shop specialising in North African light dishes and pastries.
However, on Friday and Saturday nights the café stays open late and transforms into an atmospheric shisha lounge.
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While have been to the El Bahdja before on a number of occasions during the day, this visit took place on a Friday evening.
And first impressions were good. The use of soft lighting and candles gave the place a cosier and more intimate feel compared with the lunchtime ambience.
As such, the North African theme just seems to work better at night.
The evening menu is exactly the same as the daytime one and we were pleased to see that the prices were the same too. Food and drinks are ordered at the counter but the friendly and welcoming staff bring them to your table.
To start we ordered the mezze – this consisted of houmous olives, khobz (Moroccan bread) and zaatouk.
The zaatouk, listed as a tomato and aubergine dip, was absolutely sublime and the description on the menu just didn't do it justice.
The zaatouk we were served with contained additional vegetables, including sweet potato which complimented the spices beautifully. To call it a dip also did it a disservice as it was warm and was almost like a small portion of spicy vegetable stew. All in all, this was a great rustic dish and a larger portion would definitely have made for a great main course.
However, we had already ordered alternative mains.
Being Moroccan week, I ordered the kefta tagine which came with couscous. While the kefta meatballs were served in a tomato sauce, this dish was a little dryer than I was expecting.
It was tasty enough but in the past I have has El Bahdja's lamb tagine which personally I enjoyed more. Wills ordered the Borek which is minced lamb rolled up filo pastry.
The long thin tubes reminded me of spring rolls in their appearance and crunchy texture, but the pastry worked really well with the spiced meat inside. This was served with a fresh salad which, with the pastry, combined and made a delicately light dish.
The El Bahdja does a fantastic selection of pastries and we tried one each with a coffee just to cap the meal off.
An almondy shortbread went beautifully with the coffee. This meal was a delight and at just over £11 per head for all three courses, juices and coffees, it was an absolute bargain! I like this place by day but I love it by night. Give it a go for a decadent weekend fill.