235 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022
(646) 837-0501

Marrakesh is a small, family-run business that in my first sentence, I will recommend to you. It sits below street level in Midtown, surrounded by expensive, trendy places and yet it is neither expensive nor trendy. It's just good. I am writing this posting, which will not be long, to highlight this little place's existence and make a few pointers on how to improve it.

I went here for a quick dinner with Turtle one night a few weeks back. Walking down the stairs and inside, we were greeted warmly by someone who I can only guess was the owner. He sat us down, gave us some menus, and poured us some water. Marrakesh is run by devout Muslims, so don't expect to get sauced here. Just some sittin' and talkin'. Go upstairs and you'll see a wine bar if need be.

Clearly, the vast majority of their business is takeout. Aside from the fact that a delivery guy was coming and going as we ate, our menus at the table were the takeout menu. Is that a bit tacky and, daresay, cheap? Yes. First thing they could do to improve, print up some dine-in menus. There were few other tables occupied, but it began to get more crowded as the night wore on. While it was obvious that no one was consulted regarding interior design, everything was decorated in a very appropriate, homey-mid-eastern sort of way.

The food. Okay, my biggest complaint with the menu was not what we actually ate, but was the Americanization of half of it. Caesar salad, greek salad, California wraps, barbecue chicken, fajitas, a "health" sandwich, pasta primavera, egg salad, an apple smoked turkey and brie sandwich... the list goes on. Half the menu isn't Middle Eastern. Obviously this is so that the office workers who order lunch from here can get something for everyone. I understand the economics. I still don't like it.

Turtle ordered the Chicken Kebab plate, which came with grilled chicken, rice, and a choice of two sides. He ordered the hummus and babaghannoush. The chicken was delicious, but a wee bit dry. The hummus and babaghannoush was great. I say that and I've had a lot to compare it to. My dinner was the Shish Kebab, which was lamb, a salad, rice, and two sides. I chose the falafel and the grape leaves. The falafel was good, not spectacular. The grape leaves were very good. The lamb was excellent. Turtle preferred my dish over his.

I labeled Marrakesh as "vegetarian" because of the numerous vegetarian options that it has, though, naturally, it is not exclusively vegetarian. Our meals were $13 each and with a soda, plus tax and tip, we probably dropped about $20 each. With a few improvements, Marrakesh could be vastly improved. The people who work there were very nice, the atmosphere was very pleasant, the food was very good.

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