Tangierine Café, Morocco’s longtime quick service reopened as home to the Food and Wine Festival offerings this year. Seating is available all around the Pavilion and Disney has opened Restaurant Marrakesh for additional seating opportunities. Since we’re somewhere around the middle of our walk around World Showcase (I hope), this is a good opportunity to grab some waters and relax while seated in air-conditioning. I haven’t left yet. Here’s the menu:
If you had told me at the beginning of last year that Tangierine Café would shutter, Restaurant Marrakesh would be closed indefinitely, and Disney would take over for a bankrupt Pavilion, I probably would have believed you. Morocco was probably just too authentic for your average tourist to give much thought, and there was nothing in the back like an attraction or show. Just a windowless restaurant to walk around before coming out the other side. Since Disney took over, just about everything is new.
- Lemon-Garlic Chicken Grilled Kebab – $5.75
- Moroccan Spiced Lamb Grilled Kebab – $5.75
- Fried Falafel Pita with Tahini Sauce – $5.25
- Stone-baked Moroccan Bread with Hummus, Zaalouk and Zhoug Dips – $5
- Pistachio Cake with Cinnamon Pastry Cream and Candied Walnuts – $4.75
- Fresh Blood Orange Juice – $4.75
- Fig Cocktail with White-Cranberry Juice and Fig Vodka
Lemon-Garlic Chicken Grilled Kebab – $5.75
The Chicken Kebab isn’t a great departure from what Morocco’s Food and Wine booth has served in the past, and may even taste better with the Cafe’s full kitchen at its disposal.
Here’s a previous version, for example.
The chicken may be the most accessible of the options and offers a nice little robust meal in a small-ish serving. The tender Chicken is surprisingly juicy and the Lemon-Garlic rub is subtle with the citrus acidity combining nicely with the garlic-forward tzatziki sauce. I would have liked some more seasoning in the couscous – some vegetables would go a long way, but the fluffy pearls combine nicely with the Tomato-Onion Salad if you want to go in that direction, or you can ask for it on the side. The plating is always the last step, so they can usually leave most of the sides and sauces. But the Festival is about trying new things, so give it a shot. The worst outcome is a terrible allergic reaction, but you’ll probably be surprised that your mom’s unseasoned red onions from your childhood weren’t the pinnacle of Mediterranean cuisine. Overall, with so many interesting flavors abound, and Morocco basically serving this for 30 years, I’d probably head in a different direction. But it’s a pretty safe choice, especially if you hide the onions from Dad.
Moroccan Spiced Lamb Grilled Kebab – $5.75
It’s one of those. Probably not the orange juice.
Perhaps we’re just highlighting that you have three dishes that are basically the same, just with three meat choices. This was our favorite of the bunch, and I was happy to see lamb on the menu after France cheapened out with chicken and denied us our confit. You could certainly get one of each to try, but the lamb is fresh and flavorful, and I think the sauce accompanies it better than either alternative. The accompaniments are the same, as is the price.
Harissa-marinated Beef Tenderloin Tips Grilled Kebab – $5.75
Another accessible item, the beef was less tender than you might hope for, but you may do better on a fresher selection. Morocco’s beef has always been on the drier end of the spectrum, and may resemble shoe more than beef. It doesn’t appear like Disney has found an alternate recipe despite the nation’s amazing fare. Bailey from Houston may have some pointers. In this case, more of the sauce would have helped cover some of that dryness.
I would have liked to see some Shawarma action here, but I guess we have moved that over to California in Shawarma, since sliced meats are now relegated only for Avengers and high-flying spider robots. Maybe when Food and Wine closes for 48 hours and Festival of the Holidays opens after we’ll see something like that. Personally, I pray for the same menu.
Overall, each of these is the same basic idea. The Chicken probably shows off the other flavors the best since it’s the most neutral. I like the Lamb because it’s a little different. And if you still want to be chewing beef by the time you arrive in Italy, you can go that route, at which point you’ll be chewing pasta for the rest of the day. Who needs the Dining Plan?
Fried Falafel Pita with Tahini Sauce – $5.25
This was a welcome addition away from the dried out Kefta beef Morocco had been stuffing in here for years for something like $400,000. The Falafel is crispy and seasoned well with the sesame, elevating things further. I wish someone would figure out how to make a fresh pita as they use cheap store-bought packages by the thousand, but this one is certainly worth a try. There’s just a bit of cucumber, tomato, onion, and lettuce in there; I would have liked to have seen more of it to freshen up the Falafel, which would be on the drier side without the sauce. But that’s why they add it.
Stone-baked Moroccan Bread with Hummus, Zaalouk and Zhoug Dips – $5
Did someone say stoned? Because you would have had to be pretty close to consider ordering anything from the outdoor Morocco booth over the past few years. But when you order your Za’atar from Modesto and think Kefta is synonymous with “Cook the beef to over 9,000 degrees,” you may have a problem.
Since I’m still on parole, they don’t typically let me near stone-baked bread, but it’s definitely an interesting preparation – airy, crispy, doughy, warm, and comforting all in one. The Hummus is from the grocery store, and I can tell you what Zaalouk is about as well as I can describe the love of a woman. But it’s the red sauce there with strong flavors of garlic, cilantro, and tomatoes, with a little bit of an eggplant aftertaste. If you asked me to Zhough, I’d probably tell you that you can Zhough around Disney blogging royalty and to never speak to me again. The spicy, bright green cilantro dip is an excellent opportunity to pour over your partner’s head should you not be getting along here at the halfway point. (Again, I don’t know anything about that…Tom.) or you can take advantage of dipping the bread in the sauce that’s probably toned down a bit for your tourist crowd. Like the India bread samplers we’ve seen, another piece of bread would be welcome, even if they felt like they had to charge another 50 cents for it. Just send the cutest person in your group back to the booth and they’ll be happy to provide more. Just hope to death that I’m not the best-looking person in your entourage or the one piece is all you’re getting.
India is doing its bread sampler again with Pickled Garlic, Mango Salsa, and Coriander Pesto Dips, so it will be interesting to see if the two similar dishes have any impact on sales. But it’s all going to the same place. I’d go with this one as the Indian version is basically Sanaa-light, and you want to go Sanaa-major.
Pistachio Cake with Cinnamon Pastry Cream and Candied Walnuts – $4.75
Oh great, there’s more. And I don’t even have have an opportunity to tell you that baklava is consuming to make, since it isn’t offered this year. If I had known Disney was going to change the menu to this extent, I would have bought the Pavilion myself just to put the same menu up every Festival. Speaking of which, this is better than any baklava I can remember from the Morocco booth in years. The pistachio enjoys a delicious nuttiness and the cake is almost impossibly airy with the crunchy candied walnuts helping to bring out the subtle flavors of the pistachio and the sugar in the cinnamon cream center. You can almost cut the soft cake just by looking at it. But don’t spend too much time trying. This is a top five dessert at the Festival, even if I don’t think I’d touch the thing with a 10-foot pole based on the picture. One of these days I’ll get better at the photo thing.
But that day is not today.
Fresh Orange Juice – $4.75
Fresh Blood Orange Juice – $4.75
Morocco is not known for its oranges to my knowledge. It is known as the only country in the region not to fall to to the Ottoman Empire, only for the French and Spanish to come in and screw things up in the early 20th century. They made it to the mid ’50s before Morocco rose up and kicked them out. This juice is certainly more interesting than than the straight-up orange version with tarter flavors, but it’s a confusing addition. Florida Fresh has historically been back here, so it’s possible that they just moved the drinks over here. Both are pretty easy skips unless you’re parched.
Fig Cocktail with White-Cranberry Juice and Fig Vodka
This would have been a grand and miraculous opportunity to walk one more pathway up for a better picture, but sometimes when it’s about 130 degrees, you take what you can get. I’ll try to do better for the Festival of the Holidays when lows drop into…probably still the 90s.
Cocktails are actually rare on the Festival front after Disney tried serving syrupy drinks out of thimbles for $12.50 for four or five years. This drink is larger and not nearly as cloyingly sweet as some we’ve seen in the past, so you’ll want to keep that in mind if you’re looking for a sugar bomb. You can probably thank the White Cranberry Juice for evening things out. The Fig Vodka, which usually comes in around 60-proof, compared to your standard 80-proof vodka, is aromatic and refreshing, potentially because there’s very little vodka in it. It doesn’t earn high praise, but if you’re in the mood for some Mediterranean vibes on the walk to the Greece booth, I’ll still give you a holler.