Looking for a date night cheap Moroccan restaurant?
Having recently travelled to Marrakech I felt privy to insider information visiting Sahara Bistro Restaurant, a French and Moroccan restaurant that is conveniently nestled on the Moseley Road, Birmingham B12, on the number 50 bus route, (or right next to the local landmark Moseley Dance Centre). A friend's birthday 'bit of a do' provided the perfect opportunity for Saturday evening shenanigans and I was instructed to arrive at 8.
Sahara Bistro Restaurant specials with some of their low alcohol options
First impressions are extremely charming. Sahara is intimate. I'm glad we booked as there were 9 of us. Met with an eclectic interior; there were North African objects strewn casually among table and chairs, alongside Berber inspired low seating with mock tented canopies, fun and effective in transporting you from the Moseley Road outside the window. It all felt informal and welcoming.
The menu offered an interesting mix of tagines, smoked meats, cheeses, fish, hummus. As a lapsed vegetarian I particularly noticed the veggie options that appeared more than the usual after thought; if you are vegetarian you grow tired of vegetable lasagna lying dark and dank at the bottom of a menu. Suitably inspired I strolled in the unknown ordering a duck egg potato salad for starter. A creamy potato salad with chopped egg arrived, garnished with tofu, that was rich and delicious, albeit feeling alone served without a serving of pitta bread. Continuing my vegetarian amble I chose a tofu tagine for my main course, intrigued recalling my own frustrating culinary efforts with tofu that remained obtuse and bland. The serving of smoked tofu chunks, juicy and meaty, if that sounds odd I do not apologise, and crunchy vegetables in sauce was a winner. A separate couscous was less inspiring. I had expected a lavish side with perhaps heavily laden with fruit or nuts, but a plain couscous was served. Perhaps this is more authentic ? Although I would have preferred the former. Both starter and main were served in tagines. One wonders why not all food comes with handy lid to ensure piping hot delivery and accompanying 'oohs and 'ahhs' as the lid if lifted among peering eyes at the table.
I was equally intrigued by the menu's Chorba soup, a kind of minestrone soup, lamb tagine and an almost chorizo like 'sausage and chips' served in tagine, that I'm told benefits from ketchup! I resisted hummus and breads, but did taste a friend's, enjoying the texture of what appeared reassuringly textured and flavoursome home-made hummus.
Sahara's service was friendly, but in direct contrast to my experience of Marrakech, not particularly attentive or swift. Despite a hoard of staff that buzzed around the small restaurant; one wonders what they were doing ? Perhaps the service is a work in progress. Perhaps we were all too hungry.
In our hunger we had all missed the fact that Sahara does not serve alcohol. There are alternative low alcohol beer and wine choices, although in danger of sounding alcoholic, I personally feel this defeats the object of. Later I noticed they also offer detox shots for £2; intriguingly garlic. Please try and let me know if you're braver than me. It remains unclear if no alcohol is a conscious decision or whether they are pending licence, either way it could be clearer before seating.
a glimpse at the drinks menu at Sahara Bistro Restaurant
I do feel that Sahara bistro Restaurant offers a low key glimpse of Moroccan cuisine, less so French, but is even more successful in transporting you to a a peaceful and homely corner of the world where where interesting food reigns, in Birmingham. In summary the food was delicious and felt authentic, if at times surprisingly plain.
Go and try Sahara Bistro Restaurant for yourself. I'm planning to return to Sahara with my partner and, in our heads somewhat, re-live Marrakech as it offers an excellent romantic venue that feels unique and is intimate. Sahara is also reasonably priced, for example, the duck egg starter was £4.50, and tofu tagine about £9, encouraging chance ordering to try something new. And as a local venue that's not a corporate chain, is reassuringly priceless. Which might explain why Sahara takes cash only, so be prepared, (especially if on a date), be prepared to ponce off a mate, or offer to wash up a few tagines...
Sahara Bistro Restaurant Birmingham, sat nav B129AA