THE leather dyeing vats of Fez are famous for their antiquity—and their smell.
The guano used in the process is so potent that guides hand out sprigs of mint to offset the pong.
My lunch companion was in Morocco last year and reminiscences were triggered by a wall-sized mural of the pits on the wall of the Fez Cafe. No smell, though: Authenticity has its limits.
Morocco is an ancient trade hub and the cafe’s menu is a convergence of influences from Europe, the Mediterranean, France and Northern Africa.
Having checked out the menu online I was disappointed to discover the spiced lentil, grilled vegetable dukha had disappeared, as had the seven vegetables tagine, with nuts and spices.
But the spanakopita—Greek spinach pie ($18)—restored my equilibrium with one bite.
It was delectable; the huge, round slab of pie had a crisp, flaky pastry casing and the spinach was moist and creamy with a nice sharp cheese kick, and no hint of the bitterness more commercially made offerings can have.
For all her raving about Morocco and its food my mate went for the salmon fillet ($26).
I was sure she’d order Moroccan spicy sausages, or the free-range chicken breast with herbs and apricot couscous and chickpea sauce ($22).
But she was happy tucking into her fish, perfectly cooked and sitting on bed of rich, creamy potatoes, accompanied by a tasty rocket salad.
We sat and talked so long we still had room for cake, in my case a gluten-free, almond and orange and my friend an almond and raspberry ($7).
Both were delicious, mine with a pleasant citrus zing and hers sweet as a berry.
The Fez prides itself on its coffee, a blend of five varieties, made with the “right” temperature of milk to release the flavour.
Which is why there’s a sign advising those who like their coffee “very hot” to let them know.
Having asked for a weak black, the hairs stood up on my arms at the first sip, but once the taste buds adjusted, bitterness turned to richness and coffee and cake made sweet music in my mouth.
by JENNY D’ANGER
83 Walcott St, Mt Lawley
open 7 days from 7am
kitchen closes 3pm
coffee and cake till 5pm