Last Updated: April 22, 2021
My last brush with anything Moroccan was that one time when our boss, Seth, went to the North African country for a holiday last year and gifted me a bottle of authentic argan oil which I still have ‘till this very day.
Other than that, my acquaintance with the culture could definitely do with more work. I visit La Fez at East Coast Road in an attempt to change that, and also because those around me can’t seem to stop raving about its gorgeous interior.
And understandably so—rattan chairs, lamps lining the stairway, and walls dripping in pink all come together to create an atmosphere that’s quite unmistakably Marrakech.
But still in their soft launch phase, La Fez’s menu—unlike their very elaborate interior—hangs by a thread, printed on pencil-thin paper and stained with juices and heaven knows what else. Still, it’s an experience if you’re looking for one.
But what they lack in propriety of menu presentation, the cafe more than makes up in service. The service staff are constantly all smiles, and my dining partner and I are ushered and seated in by a staff member who calls us “ma’am”.
A quick introduction to Moroccan food—always order the tagine. Like I mentioned earlier, I might not exactly be a degree holder in the cuisine, but at the very least I know that protein cooked in the traditional Moroccan earthenware is almost always packed with flavour, and slices like butter. And those are two things I love to hear.
The Tyma Chicken Tagine (S$26.90) is a good introduction to Marrakech cuisine; delicious, well-seasoned, and easy on the palate. Another very pointedly Moroccan characteristic in the dishes is how savoury is paired with sweeter ingredients like dates, nuts, and roots.
And this is exactly the case for our Chicken Tagine today, stewed in signature La Fez spice alongside harissa, carrots, almonds, and dates. Not only does it contribute to an already flavourful dish, but the sweetness from the carrots and dates also help to bring out a flavour of chicken that wouldn’t otherwise be present.
While I do love my umami, the complexity of flavours in the tagine dish is unmistakable. If anything, it’s a good indication of the flavour profiles to expect here at La Fez, and so far things are looking up.
I have to admit that I tend to be just a tad bit biased towards Caprese salads because I let very few things stand between my burrata and me. So the Tinehir Caprese Salad (S$17.90) is an obvious choice for me and is served with chopped up burrata chunks as compared to the usual ball of cheese we’re used to seeing. On the plate, you’ll also find spinach and heirloom tomatoes that help to cut through that bit of creaminess from the burrata, but other than that, don’t do that much to elevate the dish on a whole.
I take the opportunity to pick up the Nous Nous Coffee (S$3.90), which directly translates to “half-half” in Arabic. Unlike your usual cuppa, the drink comprises half espresso and half foamed milk, combining to form a balance, unlike anything I’ve tried before.
I hardly pass up the chance to try meatballs on any menu, so the Rif Boulettes (S$17.90) is a no-brainer for us. Five large Moroccan beef meatballs sit in a spice-scented tomato-based sauce and a generous one at that. There’s no denying how succulent these balls are, let alone how well they soak up every drop of sauce.
Though I’m out here avoiding the sauce like the plague because anything made from tomato just isn’t for me, I look over to see my tomato-adoring pal desperately scooping up every last bit. Something about one man’s meat and another’s poison, I guess.
After our cake order is mixed up twice, we finally land ourselves a slice on the third attempt with only the Lavender White Chocolate Cake (S$11.90) left. It’s unfortunate that lavender is once again not exactly my flower of choice when it comes to desserts, so it’s hard for me to enjoy the cake in its entirety.
The danger of pairing white chocolate with lavender is just how sweet the dish can get, and that’s the last thing anyone needs after a heavy meal of gamey meats. Nonetheless, it’s a dainty cake that is respectable in terms of presentation, but once again perfectly unexceptional in the taste department.
It pains me when places I visit are so achingly average—there aren’t many stories to tell. Today I’m withholding the Chef’s Kiss Award once again, reserved only for the most palate-seizing dishes worth returning for.
While La Fez didn’t exactly knock my socks off today, it brims with much potential that I can only hope will materialise over time.
Expected damage: S$16.90 – S$38.90 per pax
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Price: $ $
Our Rating: 3 / 5
La Fez Cafe & Bakery
907 East Coast Road, #01-03A , Singapore 459107
907 East Coast Road, #01-03A , Singapore 459107