The opening of the Nur restaurant in Fez was greeted with much excitement. For good reason. Chef Najat Kaanache presents seven courses of fine food with creativity and flare
While there is no menu to select from, the choice is the number of courses. Having no notion of what they are makes for an interesting, if somewhat confusing, experience. The lack of a wine list, however, is a flaw. The wine on offer turned out to be one of the very cheap Moroccan labels at a price per glass that was around the same price as a bottle in the local liquor outlets. It was not at a quality that mirrored that of the food. Another visitor was charged 300 dirhams for a bottle of Guerrouane!
On the night The View From Fez sampled the fare on offer, we opted for the four courses and were greeted with some of them being so small as to hardly be worthy of the name. The first, a tiny glass of pomegranate juice (delicious), was insignificant - we thought it was a complimentary amuse-bouche. Sadly not.
The second course was a standout - an artistically presented salad that resembled a work of art and tasted as fresh and delicious. It was (in contrast to the "first course") generous. The third course was a very small portion of salmon with an arrangement of potatoes and other vegetables. It was beautifully presented but a triumph of art over content. Unfortunately the salmon was lost, drowned beneath a sea of green sauce.
The final course, which we initially thought to be a dessert, turned out to be a a rich and tasty portion of chicken in chocolate sauce. Again, delicious, but small.
There is no doubting the quality of the food, however, being at a price point well above comparable quality restaurants such as Dar Roumana, makes it less attractive for locals who regularly dine out. Fortunately there are now many options, Hotel Sahrai, Palais Amani, The Ruined Garden, Fez Cafe, Maison Blanche, Dar Roumana, Maison Moi Anan and more.
Service was friendly but slightly confusing for mere anglophones as we were unable to discover what was on offer in advance; essential when ordering an accompanying glass of wine. Even a chalkboard description of the menu would be an improvement. Failing that, a description of each course by the waiter so that the customer can order which courses he or she wants.
Talking to locals in Fez, they agree that the Medina needs restaurants and chefs like Najat and it is hoped that after their settling in period they offer a reasonable wine-list, and a menu which offers more affordable options - even if slightly less artistic. In the end, food is not just to be looked at, it is to be eaten. The Fez restaurant market is very seasonal and during the quiet times, a restaurant needs solid support from the locals.