One has to marvel at the entrepreneurial expertise and energy of Café Clock's Mike Richardson. Not only has he turned Café Clock into one of the most successful venues in the Fez Medina, but now he has taken on a whole new project in Moulay Idriss. Welcome to Dar Akrab!
Until a few years ago the notion of opening a tourist venue in Moulay Idriss would have been unthinkable. As recently as 2005 non-Muslim tourists were advised to leave the small mountain town by mid-afternoon. Staying overnight was forbidden.
However, given the extraordinary beauty of the hilltop town and its proximity to the ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis, Mike Richardson saw the potential to create something special. The result is Dar Akrab - Scorpion House.
|The stunning view from the terrace|
"Foreigners are warmly welcomed in Moulay Idriss now. From what I can gather the myths about the place being unfriendly come about because the place is so special that the Moroccans wanted to keep it a secret." - Mike RichardsonDar Akrab will not only offer accommodation but will also operate as a restaurant/café. Given the interesting menu at Café Clock, we can expect the same level of culinary creativity in Moulay Idriss. And it will be in safe hands with cookery writer Tara Stevens, firing up the Moroccan barbecue and teaching guests how to make everything from duck in spiced pomegranate molasses to crystallised rose petals. Tara is well known in Morocco for her delightful cook book, the Clock Book.
Restaurant Dar Akrab is scheduled to open the end of May from 10am until sunset everyday – evening parties can be arranged on a private basis. There will be a traditional outdoor charcoal grill (‘chawaya’) serving barbequed meats, fish and vegetables, sumptuous organic salads, milkshakes, smoothies, Manuel coffee and many other fresh offerings.
Much of the produce will come its very own terraced kitchen garden (‘jnane’).
Additionally, musicians, henna artists, Arabic language classes and dance will be part of the atmosphere.
Managing Dar Akrab will be Robert Johnstone, who, like Mike, is a former maitre d' at the Ivy in London. In an inspired move he will be creating Muslim-friendly cocktails. As he explains, "Alcohol-free, but full of bright colours and glitz. We're going to bring in a bit of glamour."