Written April 4, 2013
Riad El Ma is rated #1 on Trip Advisor and is an easy 5 minute walk from the parking lot at Place Lalla Aouda. The beautifully maintained central courtyard is bright even in rainy weather and features a splendid display of Moroccan tile and plaster carving.
The rooms are decorated with an elegant simplicity. The suite Blanche has white walls, dark wood furniture and a tile floor. The bed is firm but comfortable and the room is sizable and quiet. Wifi is available but works best in the upstairs lounge where the router is. We didn’t have much of a connection from our room.
Hospitality at the riad is top notch. On a rainy afternoon while we worked on the internet in the lounge, Amina brought us fruit smoothies without being asked.
The dinner at the riad, served family style, was good but nothing much to write about, a vegetable and cheese mixture in phylo dough followed by chicken served with rice and fresh strawberries for dessert.
The breakfast is pleasant and includes the standard coffee, juice, yogurt, jam and butter with an abundant variety of bread products, some French and others Moroccan, that change from day to day.
Dinner at Collier de la Colombe
Very little alcohol is served in the medina so if you want wine with dinner, Collier de la Colombe, a short distance from Place Lalla Aouda, is a good choice. Located on a quiet street just outside the medina walls the terrace dining room has views of the Nouvelle City just across the river. The pink and white brothel like decorations in the huge dining room are a little overwhelming for the few guests that occupy the space. On a Thursday evening there was only one other couple on the enclosed terrace that could easily host a bus tour. If you get bored you can watch the soccer match with the servers on the big screen TV that hangs on the high wall of the dining room.
The food is better than one would expect from such an establishment and I would go further and say that the starters (large portions that can easily feed two to three) were some of the most interesting flavors that we’ve tasted in Morocco. The harira soup, tomato based with chickpeas and a dash of heat, is served with a sweet pastry. The selection of Moroccan salads included – spinach, fava beans, carrots and eggplant, all cooked and flavorful. After such a great start we were a little disappointed with the mains – the trout meurnière was overcooked and the lamb and prune tagine was OK but lacked the depth of flavor that a slow cooked tagine should have.