CHEZ FATIMA By Brian Northgrave (Review)
If you like Moroccan food or think you should try Chez Fatima for the quality of the food and the welcoming presence of its owner.
The is a wide choice of salads, the buffet is varied with a choice of beef, chicken and lamb dishes – all nicely spiced. In addition to the buffet, one can eat a la carte, and if you do I highly recommend the pastilla – sweet pastry with chicken filling.
This is Moroccan food at its best. And Moroccan food has long been appreciated for its sophistication and variety. I had the chance to live in Morocco for three years, and I can attest to the excellent standard of Chez Fatima’s cuisine.
The restaurant, just over the Portage Bridge in Hull, at Rue Principal 125, is small about 50 places. While Chez Fatima is unpretentious, it has cloth serviettes and table cloths and the surroundings are bright and attractively decorated. Prices are moderate – when the four of us went there for lunch, the total, including a quite respectable Moroccan wine, worked out to less than $20 per person, not including tip. If you go in the evening, if you don’t see a place to park in front of the restaurant – drive around the block and in the parking lot directly behind Chez Fatima there are a couple of places marked for customers.
Now, for me, what raises Chez Fatima to a level all its own is Fatima herself. She is warm, welcoming, and everywhere, to greet you and advise you about the menu, or else in the kitchen with others to prepare your order. Or if you call, it is usually Fatima on the phone to tell you about what is special that evening. The Ottawa Citizen’s food critic, Anne Desbrisay, wrote a review recently in which she tells of going the restaurant twice, once when Fatima was not there, and once when she was. The first time, the experience was quite good, but she was told that it was too bad that Fatima was on holiday, that with Fatima there everything was even better. Not quite believing it, she returned a second time with her son to the warm attention of Fatima, and understood what a happy difference it makes.
My wife and I have been there twice, and on returning home the last time I said something I have said in Europe, but never in Canada – that I could see myself as a “regular”. My wife agreed, and we have decided that we should return to Chez Fatima where we like to think of ourselves as “habitués.” .. .
Tags: Brian Northgrave