There are quiet a few options available when one is contemplating dining out in Manly. Except, of course, if it is Easter Friday. So when we found out that our primary choice (Angel Restaurant in Queenscliff) was closed, a mate of mine suggested we visit Out of Africa instead.
Since I had only eaten Moroccan cuisine perhaps twice in the last 5 years, I was very keen to give it another crack. Especially since my mate wouldn’t shut up about how great the food was there! Given all the hype, I was very surprised to see that only one table was occupied when we got there. I knew it was Easter Friday, plus 6pm is a little early for dinner, but it still made me nervous about the quality of food on offer!
Stepping into the restaurant, it’s hard not to admire the stunning decor. It really does feel like a slice of Africa with the all the earthly tones, abundance of wood, animal figurines and absolutely gorgeous ornaments and lighting. Oh and did I mention the Zebra patterned benches? :)
Once seated we immediately asked if they offered a banquet menu. Having not eating Moroccan for a while, I was very eager to try bits of everything that they had to offer. Thankfully there was a Traditional Banquet menu available, which normally requires a minimum of 4 diners, however the waiter gave the 3 of the us the thumbs up after speaking with the chef.
Traditional Banquet Menu
This cost us $46 per person and consisted of the following 9 items:
Gourmet presentation served with a variety of ethnic bread.
What a great way to start dining. The orange (no it’s not tandoori!) dip was my favourite of the three. Although the brownish lentil dip does come close. The first slices of bread that came out weren’t as warm as I’d hoped, however the second (yes we ordered more), were perfectly warm and soft to eat.
Filo cigar pastries filled with spiced marinated chicken and almonds.
This dish was absolutely beautiful. Presented impeccably, the marinated chicken pastries had plenty of flavour and combined with the orange sauce, made for a truly delicious entree.
Long lamb fillet marinated in pure olive oil, fresh coriander leaves, cumin and paprika, caressed with charmoula sauce.
I love lamb when it is cooked well. And by well I don’t mean well done, but cooked just right. As was the case for this dish which was a joy to eat.
Lamb Bidaoui aux sept Legumes
Traditional couscous including 7 tasty vegetables.
Speaking of cooking lamb just right… Wow! The lamb in this dish came off the bone with succulent ease. And yes it was oh so nice and tender to eat. I couldn’t help but poke around with my fork, looking for that last piece of lamb.
A taste sensation of marinated chicken tajine with olives, preserved lemon and North African spicy dressing topped with saffron potatoes.
This dish packed plenty of flavour and went really well with the Jasmine rice (shown below). The only downside, I guess, is that I found it difficult liking the actual pieces of chicken after eating such beautifully cooked lamb.
Chargrilled Vegetables & Spicy Yoghurt Dip
A feast of 4 vegetables marinated and char-grilled, served with a tangy, home made yoghurt dip.
Char-grilled veggies… Move along, nothing to see here.
Nicely cooked rice. Yes, some restaurants do get this wrong!
Homepage made Citrus & Coconut Cake or Profiteroles
It was hard picking between the two dessert options, so we ordered both kinds to share. I was very keen to try the profiteroles, but was awfully disappointed when they came out slightly burned. You could literally see the charred surface and the taste… yuck! This was really sad because the rest of the dishes had been great.
I voiced my concern to the waitress and requested the Citrus & Coconut Cake instead. She apologised and promptly brought me a serving of the cake. Now if you’ve read some of my other posts, you’ll know that I love all things coconut :) This cake certainly held true to that. It was so moist and full of flavour. I was slightly nervous about the citrus, but found that it complimented the coconut really well.
Moroccan Mint Tea or Coffee of your choice
Sadly we were too full and opted out of getting tea or coffee :( Must have been the two servings of bread or perhaps the two servings of cocktails!
African Punch cocktail ($7.50 glass)
Vodka, Bacardi, Triple Sec, Port, Red Wine, Fresh Fruit.
As much as I love coconut, I love Vodka just the same. No, wait! That makes me sound like an alcoholic! Let me re-word that… I prefer vodka over other spirits, so naturally I went for the African Punch cocktail. And wow, what a drink! It’s so easy to consume because it doesn’t taste alcoholic at all. It’s just a refreshingly nice drink to enjoy with your meal. Highly recommended!
All in all I was very happy with my visit to Out of Africa. I know there were a few hiccups with the bread and profiteroles, but the friendliness of the service staff, as well as the taste of the remaining dishes, more than made up for it. Would I recommend Out of Africa to others? Absolutely.
P.S By the time we had finished eating, the restaurant was jammed packed with happy patrons :)