Tagine
 
 

Modern Moroccan from the heart

By Grace Jidoun

Chef Ben Benameur might not seem to have much in common with Ryan Gosling. Raised in the ancient port city of Kenitra, Morocco, Ben learned to cook alongside his mother before moving to the States 25 years ago. And Gosling is, well, the box office heartthrob who is starring in an upcoming Terrence Malick film. But they both share a passion for food, and for the last ten years have co-owned Tagine, bringing the distincitive flavors of Morocco to Beverly Hills.

From the first bite of the three-course tasting menu, offered exclusively to BBE subscribers, you'll realize the unlikely duo are not sticklers for tradition. The beet salad is a knockout beauty—plump raspberries, blueberries, garbanzos, and diced beets chill alongside lemon sorbet. It's a big statement—this is modern Moroccan cuisine, not the eat-with-your-hands family-style feasts that have come to define the genre.

Ben, who once manned the stoves at Water Grill, shows off his seafood skills with the stellar couscous, a main course created just for BBE subscribers. Sweet-glazed salmon and scallops, resting on a bed of spring asparagus, julienned carrots, and garbanzos, will have you clamoring for more. Sides of roasted cauliflower and cinnamon-scented couscous add layers of complexity.

But it's the signature chocolate soup that perfectly illustrates the chef’s fresh sense of culinary style. The soup comes presented in a glass demitasse, and diners pour it over vanilla ice cream and caramel sprinkled with slivered almonds. Accompanied by two small diamonds of baklava, it nods to tradition, but keeps the focus on the future.

Once you've settled into the plush storefront dining room, resting against velveteen pillows and sipping Sangria, you'll notice the subdued strains of jazz in the background, and jars filled with bougainvillea petals gracing every wooden in-laid table. And don't expect belly dancing either; here it's all about subtle details and a contemporary feel.

BBE exclusive three-course dinner ($38 per person)

first course
“From the Earth”—Baby beets, cabbage, horseradish, garbanzo beans, shallots, cherry tomatoes, roasted cauliflowers, feta cheese, and house ginger vinaigrette

second course
“From the Sea”—Alaskan king salmon, black tiger shrimp, dry sea scallops, and white wine sauce over Israeli couscous

dessert
“From the Heart”—Chocolate Soup

Citi Table Extra Perk (available for Citi cardmembers)
Red Sangria, blended red berries, red Burgundy

hours

Tue–Sun 6 PM–10:30 PM
Closed Monday

price range

$12 (bastilla) to $42 (grilled prime 12-oz New York strip steak)
x