Fez is the culinary capital of Morocco, so it’s well worth centering a trip here revolving around food. The medina has countless stalls serving cheap Moroccan street food, and it takes a significant amount of willpower not to keep on stopping to have a taste. Some say, though, that the best Fassi dishes are those served at home. But for those who do not know any locals or do not have the opportunity to be invited into the home of one, they can still sample some great dishes in one of the restaurants.
One of those is The Ruined Garden (attached to the hotel Riad Idrissy), located in a quiet corner of the medina, away from the main arteries. The restaurant is in, well, a garden that provides a tranquil and atmospheric environment. The menu changes between lunch and dinner, as well as throughout the days of the week (for example, couscous is only served on Fridays).
I start with mint tea, Morocco’s “national” drink. It’s something that I’ve grown to love since the past year as it really calms my stomach, especially after overdoing it with the eating. Over the past few days, I’ve learned that Moroccan tea can either be served as is or sweet, so when ordering it, you’re asked by the server if you want it with sugar or not. When I order it with sugar, it tastes too sweet for my taste (I don’t know how much sugar they put in it), so I order mine with sugar on the side. I put a piece of sugar cube to provide the drink with just enough sweetness without overpowering the mint.
For the meal itself, I go with the basics — the harira and tajine.
The harira is a soup made of tomatoes and chickpeas, and is traditionally prepared in Morocco and Algeria. Morocco’s harira, however, also contains lentils, which is good if you’re loading up on fiber. A warm bowl of harira is a nice way to start the meal, especially with the really cold weather.
As for the tajine, it’s another dish traditionally prepared in North Africa. The name comes from the pot in which it’s cooked. Moroccan tajine is slow-cooked (so your order can take a while) with sliced meat, poultry or fish mixed together with vegetables or fruit, as well as spices like cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and saffron. The carbs come from bread, which is often served along with the tajine.
Since it’s a Monday, and I’m doing Meatless Mondays, I have vegetable tajine, where carrots, potatoes, bell peppers, and olives are used instead of meat.
Overall, dining here is a delightful experience. Service is friendly, and the prices are worth it, considering the serving size. It’s also a great place to rest your legs after all the walking and getting lost around the medina.
The Ruined Garden
15 Derb Idrissy Sidi Ahmed Chaoui Medina 30110, Siaj, Fes, Morocco