9 June 2016

Assilah Bistro – Bristol

I thought I'd been hard pressed to find a decent Moroccan restaurant in Bristol, but perhaps I just wasn't looking hard enough, because last week I was introduced to Assilah Bistro, a little BYOB restaurant in south Bristol.

If you want authenticity, Assilah Bistro is the place to go. Situated on a road in between Knowle and Totterdown, it's popular with the locals and charmed me with its welcoming staff, gorgeous decor and attention to detail.

My friends Drew & Katie were visiting from Abergavenny and they'd been to Assilah before (they loved it). I'm always keen to eat at places friends recommend – especially when it's food I don't get to eat very often. I've never been to Morocco, but sitting on the (slightly uncomfortable) stalls at low, beautifully-tiled tables, it certainly didn't feel like we were in Bristol anymore.

My knowledge of Moroccan cuisine is limited; is it exclusive to Morocco? I've eaten similar food – falafel, lamb cofta, tagine – at Comptoir Libanais, but where does it originate?

Nonetheless, Assilah Bistro had something special to offer, both in terms of its chilled atmosphere and, of course, the food. The curtains draping across the restaurant (which was like someone's living room!), the colourful patterned tiles. Just stunning detail, all round, setting us up ready for the main event – the food.

We ordered some falafels, olives and bread to start. The olives came in a spicy dressing and were really juicy and yum. I'd pass on the other two starters next time, though. The falafels were a tad on the salty side and the bread was just bread – nothing special.

We were a party of 7 so I expected service to be slow, but we waited over an hour(!) for our mains. However, our server was so friendly and the food was delicious, so I had to let it go. I ordered the lamb meshwi – marinated lamb from the grill served with salad, cous cous and a tomato sauce. It had just the right amount of spice, and, combined with the fresh salad, warm couscous and tomato sauce, this dish was, I think, the best on the whole menu.

With BYOB at just £2 per bottle Assilah Bistro is a great restaurant for a meal with friends. It's a little different and a bit out of the way of the city centre, but so worth a visit if you want a change from all the usual high street offerings. If anything, just go to have a nosy and make friends with the staff – this place is awesome. 


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