x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Hugely enjoyable

Experience a la carte dining of waist-widening scope at the capital's leading Moroccan restaurant.

Agadir seamlessly fuses traditional and modern Moroccan fare. Lee Hoagland / The National
Agadir seamlessly fuses traditional and modern Moroccan fare. Lee Hoagland / The National
Having recently celebrated the second anniversary of its opening, Agadir has established itself as the capital's leading exponent of choice Moroccan culinary delights - and you suspect that would be the case even if Abu Dhabi could muster a more contemporary contender than the Millennium Hotel's somewhat dated rival, Marakesh.

It's an almost exotic experience, no doubt in part thanks to Morocco's status as the most far-flung of all the Mena nations from the Gulf, but if there's one lasting impression of the nation's cuisine from a visit to Agadir, it's the sheer generosity of its portions. Going by the ambitious scale of every single menu option that we were presented, it's a minor wonder, frankly, that the country is currently a whopping 92 places below the UAE in the world obesity rankings.

While there was no suggestion that you should be indulging in the Arabic tradition of communal sharing between diners, the dishes were nonetheless sized on that premise.

My partner's salade fawakeh bahr starter, a seemingly bottomless seafood salad that was overflowing with mussels, marinated sea bass, clams and calamari (the squid executed as delicately as any in the city), was topped with king prawns so large that they were in danger of being moved up a pugilistic division to lobster weight.

My hamame confit au huile d'argan was only a smidgen smaller, delivering a veritable spread of sliced pigeon and duck breast decorated with argan oil, ras al hanout spice and cardamom that delivered a subtle tang to the rich meat.

Both dishes blended the traditional with the 21st century with ease, which is an overarching theme at Agadir, nicely complemented by a romantic, enveloping darkness on the terrace. The genuinely warm Moroccan staff, coupled with the use of imported North African materials throughout the building, added to that sensation.

By this juncture, the dinner conversation turned to exactly how large the mains must be. We didn't have to wait long for an answer: the daurade royale Casablanca could almost have made Moby Dick blush. A whole, deboned, baked sea bream, filled with mixed seafood and vermicelli and haloed by baby vegetables. I gladly accepted the challenge of extracting the gorgeous white flakes of flesh from beneath a slathering of tomato - my only criticism is that the filleting process probably could have been more thorough.

Meanwhile, the tagine m'rozia, hearty chunks of braised lamb doused in ras al hanout and flecked with caramelised onion, almonds, sesame seeds and - a little incongruously - raisins, was unveiled from under a colourful tagine pot lid. While it wasn't insanely ginormous, the North African predilection for meat, and shedloads of it, guaranteed a weighty second course.

There was only minor respite within the dessert menu. The almost ubiquitous ras al hanout made a late return in a Moroccan take on crème brûlée - part of the twist being that it's served on a soup-bowl scale - and while the sugary crust lacked the requisite crunch, the saffron-infused delights that lay below more than compensated.

Agadir's era-melding theme also received a reprise in the tagine de banane d'Agadir, a fruity finisher of roasted banana with orange, honey, cinnamon and vanilla ice cream, that made use of the traditional Moroccan cooking-pot process.

Abandon your belts and book in a trip to the tailor for the day after you visit Agadir, because you'll experience à la carte dining of waist-widening scope. Yet, unlike some other international cuisines, the quantity never once compromises the quality.

. A meal for two at Agadir, Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa, costs Dh500. For reservations, call 02 616 9999. Reviewed meals are paid for by The National and are conducted incognito


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