First off I must say that I was particularly happy the evening I visited this restaurant as I was there with my mate Christian. Just so you understand, in my world a ‘mate’ is like what wine is to France – essential! So you might think that my judgement would have been altered by this happy fact…but nay! In fact it wasn’t my first visit to the restaurant ‘La Cour des Lions’ so I knew what to expect…smart thinking!
So, we were seated on the first floor of the hotel Marrakech “E s Saadi”, an institution in the red city. Es Saadi is a magnificent hotel, with a well-known casino and three restaurants, of which ‘La Cour des Lions’ is one. I would even say the highest one!
The building has extremely high ceilings. The decoration is very much in the Moroccan style, covered in stucco, but in light colours, mostly white, which gives it a restful and calm atmosphere. An impressive bay window opens on to a magnificent view of the hotel gardens and of Marrakech. The restaurant’s dining room is organised in strict lines, in-between the tables as well as on them. The servers are strategically positioned, waiting, and ready to start the performance from Sebastien ‘the magician’ Bontour who is perfecting his art in the kitchen…
At the start of the performance, I opt for the creative cuisine option on the menu while Christian goes for the more traditional Moroccan cuisine option. But it only appears more traditional on the menu, as we soon realise that the good old tasty and familial Moroccan cuisine that you can try in every riad Marrakech can, after waving a magic wand, be the height of refinement.
The creative menu is astounding: each plate, entree or main dish resembles a little garden square in three dimensions where all your ingredients are planted, along with petals, vegetables, all joined together by emulsions, sauces…. With everything making a surprising mix of flavours; colourful, spring-like, and undeniably harmonious. Frankly, scallops and strawberries, you’ve got to be daring to try that! And yet it was indeed a real dish and not an illusion! Everything is in the inspiration, the creation. Well, maybe all those sprigs of green on your little garden square are also able to be smoked, who knows…
Having completely emptied our ‘gardens’ of all that was in them, the magic continued with an amazing dessert plate based entirely on mint. No doubt about it, the Chef has green fingers! But tell me Monsieur Bontour, there is something that I’m wondering, you weren’t a gardener or landscaper in a previous life by any chance? I mean, before becoming a chef/magician…
In any case, it was a great gastronomic moment which really puts this place up there amongst the best restaurant Marrakech: thank you so much Sebastien “the magician” Bontour!
Restaurant “La Cour des Lions”:
Hotel Es SAADI
Rue Ibrahim El Mazini
Phone: +212 5 24 33 74 00 -06 63 58 15 99
Fax : +212 5 24 44 76 44
Email : email@example.com
Web : www.essaadi.com