date of visit: Thurs 19 May 2011
At the suggestion (or should that be request?) of a friend a small group of us headed to Le Riad, the only city centre Moroccan restaurant in Adelaide. It’s a tiny, unobtrusive restaurant that sits on Pulteney Street, next to the Earl of Aberdeen and Pondok Bali.
I like Moroccan food (just as I liked Morocco – any country where bakers cycle around with their fresh bread which you can buy and then they invite you to come and see their bakery rates highly for me) but don’t have a lot of experience eating it in restaurants, so I was interested to see how things panned out.
Our reservation was for very early (6pm) on a Thursday night – totally unnecessary as we were alone in the restaurant for the entire meal, although a very large party did arrive just as we were leaving. The restaurant is decorated with carpets and wall hangings which not only add ambience but I suspect are absolutely essential for sound absorption in such a small venue. The Moroccan music playing was mostly unobtrusive, so Le Riad definitely gets a thumbs up for noise management! It is quite a dim restaurant which can be irritating if you like (or want) to see your food in detail.
The service was probably the big let down. I know I’m difficult to please when it comes to service but our waitress just wasn’t switched on enough. For example, we ordered the selection of dips to start and the dips were placed on the table without any explanation of what was what. OK – we could figure out the hummous and the goat’s cheese dip but did rather struggle with the others. And when we ordered more bread (from someone other than our waitress) she came out into the restaurant with it and seemed surprised and confused about where the bread should go. Of course, not providing quite enough bread with a selection of dips is a criticism in itself. It never pays to be less than generous with things like bread – especially not when bread is such a staple in Moroccan cuisine.
These grumbles aside, the dips were tasty and things augured well for our main courses. Around the table we had a tagines, couscous and different types of kebab so we did a reasonable job of covering the menu. The portion sizes are quite generous although, with the kebabs in particular, there is plenty of padding with salad. I ordered the kefta kebab which came as three patties on a plate with rice and salad. It all tasted good (not exceptional) but the dish was really salad, with the kefta and rice.
After finishing with mint tea, the bottom line came to $35 per person (including a tip). This did include a few alcoholic drinks. I suspect that this is where my problem lies: it’s just a tad too expensive for what it is. The selection of dips alone was $24 – that’s just too much for something that’s so cheap and easy to produce. The various kebabs all hover around the $20 mark and the rest of the dishes are somewhere between $20 and $25. This means that if you’re a keen cook who can be bothered to produce this type of food at home you’ll be left feeling a little short changed. Personally – that’s exactly how I feel which means I doubt I’ll be rushing back.
Of course, if you’re looking for a casual meal out which is a change of pace, then Le Riad is definitely an option worth considering.
314B Pulteney Street
Adelaide SA 5000
phone: 08 8223 6111