Taste of Morocco’s vibrant character spans from the flavorful cuisine that tops the dining room's linen-covered tables to the belly dancers who swivel and sashay around guests seated in turquoise chairs. In the kitchen of the cozy neighborhood eatery, chefs dress morsels of chicken, lamb, and veggies in tagines and couscous dishes. Multicourse feasts are also available, conveniently portioned for two. The belly dancers add extra spice to the dining experience on weekends, displaying feats of abdominal coordination while diners' stomachs contentedly perform the digestion fox trot.
Built in Richmond's first high-rise apartment building and named for the artesian well that once provide water to its tenants, The Well carries on the edifice's history of welcoming visitors. The restaurant, owned and run by the same family that owned Cous Cous, exudes a comfortable retro feel, with recycled wooden doors supporting the bar and an old jukebox in the corner. The food, however, is not stuck in the past: the menu consists of classic dishes imbued with inventive twists, like shrimp po boy sandwiches with soubise and spiced aioli, and roasted beet sliders topped with fried pickles. Specialty drinks are named for staff members' canine friends, meaning patrons don't actually have to swallow hair from their own dogs.
Growing up in Casablanca exposed Driss Zahidi to French, Mediterranean, Italian, and Spanish cuisines. As the oldest of five children, he regularly helped his mother in the kitchen, and began working as a line cook in high school. Considering his upbringing, it would seem that Driss's natural next step would be to become the award-winning chef and restaurateur that he is today. But the reality is a bit more unexpected.
After earning a master's in physics, Driss spent a year as a chemical engineer in France, chemically engineering things in a place of chemical engineering. Cooking remained his passion, though, so when he'd clock out at the lab, he'd head to local restaurants to hone his chops making meals. He then decided to abandon his engineering career to court the food world full time, and eventually came to America where he co-founded two critically acclaimed restaurants before opening Le Mediterranean Bistro.
Driss has still never set food in a culinary school, but that doesn't change the fact that he is applauded for his deft take on upscale French cuisine. After one look at his artful, sculptural dishes and a taste of his pistachio-crusted lamb or Moroccan Pastilla, it's clear that Driss's background in chemistry has served his cooking just fine.
Mouthwatering scents from traditional tagines trickle through the horseshoe arches of this Moroccan eatery, offering olfactory hints at dishes served up à la carte and family style. Make a bold beginning with a bastilla appetizer, a bastion of Moroccan fare filling thin phyllo dough with chicken or vegetables ($14.99, $24.99 for medium). Next, sink teeth into entrees of vegetarian and meaty varieties, such as the lamb tagine with raisins and almonds in a sweet sauce ($15.99) or vegetable-studded couscous ($12.99). Families, friends, or barbershop quartets can feed on Fez's family-style feasts, which include soup or salad, a bastilla, a tagine or couscous, dessert, and Moroccan mint tea (starting at $46.99). The bistro's bar is open late on weekends to accommodate nocturnal noshers.