Home / Restaurant Reviews / Fez has some promising flavors and charming belly dancers!

Fez has some promising flavors and charming belly dancers!

Walk into the new Fez restaurant on Central and you definitely get a different ambiance. Candles are on the wall, Moroccan reds and purples light up the muted decor, and the hospitality is palpable.

 

 

 

I paid a visit there last night for their grand opening. With the Grand Prix in town, downtown was hopping and it was a great time to schedule a grand opening. (They’ve already been open for several weeks.) And when the belly dancers started, more and more people stopped to take notice of this rather small, unassuming addition to the downtown restaurant scene.
Hummus was on the menu as an appetizer, and it’s really a prerequisite when trying Moroccan food, don’t you think? Granted, hummus comes in many different cultural styles. Traditional Middle Eastern is different from Moroccan. Israeli is different from Middle Eastern. It’s all tasty to me, for the most part, and this one had some interesting things about it. It was served spread flat on a plate with warm pita bread over the top. The theory is, I think, that you are to use the pita to pick up the hummus, as most Moroccan food is eaten by hand. The flavors were pleasant and I really didn’t taste much garlic in it like I’ve become accustomed to. The pita bread was soft and warm from the oven. It was a nice starter while they opened some Faustino Rioja for us.

I paid a visit there last night for their grand opening. With the Grand Prix in town, downtown was hopping and it was a great time to schedule a grand opening. (They’ve already been open for several weeks.) And when the belly dancers started, more and more people stopped to take notice of this rather small, unassuming addition to the downtown restaurant scene.
Hummus was on the menu as an appetizer, and it’s really a prerequisite when trying Moroccan food, don’t you think? Granted, hummus comes in many different cultural styles. Traditional Middle Eastern is different from Moroccan. Israeli is different from Middle Eastern. It’s all tasty to me, for the most part, and this one had some interesting things about it. It was served spread flat on a plate with warm pita bread over the top. The theory is, I think, that you are to use the pita to pick up the hummus, as most Moroccan food is eaten by hand. The flavors were pleasant and I really didn’t taste much garlic in it like I’ve become accustomed to. The pita bread was soft and warm from the oven. It was a nice starter while they opened some Faustino Rioja for us.
The menu is not extensive. It’s very traditional Moroccan with a few creative additions. My dining companion and I tried the lamb shank. There are two of these on the menu. The one we had was slow cooked with raisins and prunes. The most striking thing about it was the spices, and I guess that’s what’s most refreshing for me about Moroccan food in general. You could taste the cumin, the cinnamon and get a glimpse of the essence of this most unique cuisine. There’s a savory/ sweet component to it that can be intoxicating when it is done right and this dish was exceptional.
There is a balance on the menu between the meat dishes and the seafood/vegetarian dishes that will accommodate everyone. The tagine with tilapia in a red sauce on first glance made me a feel a little skeptical. I’m not a big fan of this fish for several reasons, but slow cooked in their red sauce with Moroccan spices, it shined. The fish was moist with slices of tomato on top that tenderized it even further. We also ordered a vegetable couscous as a side dish. One has to realize as a rule that couscous is rather dry. It is tiny pasta that was traditionally made by hand in places like… well Fez in Morocco, for instance. However, when you add the couscous to a slow cooked tagine, it becomes a perfect balance that lifts this dining experience to a very authentic level.
While we were dining, two women began belly dancing throughout the restaurant, and one could immediately tell the customers were uplifted and really having fun with it. People were walking by the entrance and would stop just to take in the sights. These two dancers are not only very talented at what they do, but also very charming people to talk to. They made a point of connecting with all of the diners and it felt very welcoming.
Fez is going to need to hire a couple more servers for the restaurant. They are still adjusting to the attention they are receiving, and I could tell that service will be hard to handle with the amount of staff they currently have on hand. They also need someone dedicated to greeting guests as they come into the restaurant. Those small changes will make this place a sure winner. The bottom line is, if you are little a patient as they get started, you will experience some excellent examples of Moroccan food and have a festive time doing it.
Most entrees are between $10 and $15, with appetizers under $10. Fez is located at 261 Central Avenue in downtown St. Petersburg. They are open from 5 to 10pm durning the week and until 11pm on the weekends. They are closed on Sundays. Reservations are recommended for large groups.

About elizabeth

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.