Review: Nomad, Marrakech Morocco

Walking through Marrakesh in search for a meal can be particularly difficult as a traveller who stands out as being quite physically different. Getting accosted by restaurant managers on all sides who try to convince you to enter their restaurant for yet another overly expensive and under-flavoured chicken tajine or cous cous is one of the downsides of being a tourist in Marrakech.

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There are however, nice restaurants and cafes that employ less heavy-handed techniques to attract diners – clever branding, location, atmosphere, and innovative menus for example. Nomad is one of these cafes, a very cool hipster cafe with a fantastic rooftop terrace overlooking the markets, waiters who spoke impeccable English, French, Arabic and Berber, and a menu offering modern interpretations of traditional cuisine – and more than just tajines as well! The stair to the terrace are a little bit hidden as Nomad doesn’t have any space on the ground floor, so make sure to look them up on Google Maps before heading out!

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We were lucky enough to have a private table on the terrace, separate from all the diners. It’s a cosy little table for two under an awning in one of the few nooks, facing out to the markets and Marrakech Medina rooftops for a great view. If you want to enjoy a quiet relaxing meal without other tourists right next to you, this is the table.

Mixed seasonal fruit juice, 25 Dirham, 1 Litre Sparkling Water, 25 Dirham
Mixed seasonal fruit juice, 25 Dirham, 1 Litre Sparkling Water, 25 Dirham

Enjoying some unseasonably warm weather in Marrakech, we started by sharing a summery mixed fresh fruit juice. Strawberries are very much in season in Marrakech in February, so this was a blend of strawberry, orange and apple – lovely, refreshing and quite sweet.

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You get the Moroccan khobz bread served with every meal. Nomad’s khobz was particularly tasty with a light semolina dusting outside and a nice hard and chewy crust.

Shaved cauliflower and fennel salad with fresh herbs and toasted almonds, 60 Dirham
Shaved cauliflower and fennel salad with fresh herbs and toasted almonds, 60 Dirham

This Shaved Cauliflower and Fennel Salad may be the dish that finally makes me fall in love with cauliflower as a vegetable. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve always eaten cauliflower, whether in stir fries or bakes. I’ve even used it as a rice substitute in fried cauliflower rice. However, this is the dish that’s made me fall in love with raw crunchy cauliflower in a salad – lightly dressed with a herb dressing and flavoured with spicy rocket and sweet strawberries, it’s a deceptively simple but delicious salad. This is definitely one to try making at home!

Courgette and feta fritters served with a minted yoghurt sauce, 80 Dirham
Courgette and feta fritters served with a minted yoghurt sauce, 80 Dirham

We share the Courgette and Feta Fritters as well – quite soft and not quite as crispy on the outside as I would like. However the mint yoghurt sauce definitely manages to lift the whole dish – it’s refreshing and adds an extra zing to the fritters. It’s simply so delicious that I end up dipping my khobz bread into it afterwards to make the most of the dip!

Chicken Tagine with preserved lemon and green olives served with buttery cous cous and harissa and chermoula sauces, 100 Dirham
Chicken Tajine with preserved lemon and green olives served with buttery cous cous and harissa and chermoula sauces, 100 Dirham

We ordered one main to share – the Chicken Tajine. I know I spoke disparagingly about tajines earlier in this entry, but this is the dish that proves to be the exception. While it’s a tajine dish, it’s not actually served in a tajine. Instead, the chicken is plated up with a delicious little cup of buttery herbed cous cous, as well as an incredibly hot harissa and a fragrant chermoula on the side. The chicken itself is fall-apart amazing, with a tenderness that was unmatched by any of the other many chicken tajines we had during our stay in Marrakech – and the sauce was unparalleled as well. I’d go as far as to say that this is one of the best chicken tajines in the whole city!

Amlou (almond, argan oil and honey) ice-cream and smooth spiced chocolate sorbet, 40 Dirham
Amlou (almond, argan oil and honey) ice-cream and smooth spiced chocolate sorbet, 40 Dirham

Nomad advertise their artisan ice-creams, so we order some scoops to try for dessert – an Amlou ice-cream and a Smooth Spiced Chocolate Sorbet. The Amlou ice-cream is quite nutty, a great blend of both almond and argan nut sweetened subtly by some local honey. The spiced chocolate sorbet is the clear winner though, with an initial rich dark chocolate flavour that’s slowly taken over by a long-lasting subtle chilli burn.

Flourless orange cake with caramelised orange zest and whipped cream, 60 Dirham
Flourless orange cake with caramelised orange zest and whipped cream, 60 Dirham

Just for good measure, we order one more dessert – a Flourless Orange Cake. The cake is very almondy – the almond flour used in place of wheat flour is very evident here. This isn’t a downside though, as it ends up working very well with the whipped cream on the side as a lovely moist orange cake.

Nomad is the type of classy cafe where you can be assured of a modern Moroccan meal, free of hassling waiters and sub-par tajines. Instead, you’re guaranteed a lovely relaxing meal in a great location – and if you don’t want to have a meal, you can just sit back and relax with some drinks as well! They’re very relaxed in that way. They are a little pricier than your average street-side Moroccan restaurant, but it’s worth the extra expense for a better experience. Nomad is a must-visit when you’re in Marrakech!

Nomad is located at 1 Derb Aarjan in Marrakech Medina, Morocco.

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