The Bedouins

For pictures of food that I’m eating or sneak peeks into reviews I will be doing in the future, check out my instagram and don’t forget to follow for all future updates!

People: 3

Type: A La Carte

Price: $53.55 CAD (Tip not included)

VerdictExperience

                  One of my first forays into African food came in the form of a Moroccan/Libyan restaurant that advertises themselves for serving a fresh and unique taste of North Africa. While I can’t really comment on how unique the food was, the freshness of the food was on full display. Located in Castle Downs nestled into a strip mall, this fantastic restaurant can be easily missed if you aren’t specifically looking for it.

Hummus and Eggplant

                  The interior is extremely cozy (small) with enough seating for approximately 20-25 people. There’s a TV playing on the wallm and the ceiling is covered in colorful drapes, making you feel as if you’re in a tent in Morocco. The floors were tiled and kept pretty clean from what I could see. Even on a sunday night, the restaurant was completely packed with people enjoying dinner.

Service

                  Upon entering, we were greeted and seated immediately. All the servers were super friendly and made you feel like a part of the family. They weren’t afraid to tell me to not order something (the shawarma) and instead made other suggestions. I appreciate the candidness in regards to their menu but it does make me wonder why even leave it on the menu in that case. The dip pictured above was provided free of charge along with some naan for us to snack on while our order was made. After this, they also provided a free soup to us prior to our meal; I’ll go more in depth with the soup later on in the review. Our reservation was for 3 people and the portion sizes were generally meant for 2 people — however, the server instantly recognized that as an issue before we even had a chance to think about it and — at no extra cost — bumped everything up to be enough for 3 people, which is an excellent gesture that you just don’t find at other restaurants.

Soups and Appetizers

Chickpeas in Lamb Broth

                 The broth had a dark colour with pungent smells of lamb, as if I was eating it fresh straight from the animal! Flecks of herbs and spices broke the monotony of the broth with the chickpeas adding a different texture. You would think the chickpeas would have done something to bring down the spiciness but I still found it to be somewhat spicy with a lingering kick at the end of the bite. For those that can’t handle spice, I imagine the broth is on the higher end of it.

Batata Mbattana ($3.00)

Potato, Minced Meat, Fresh Herbs and Libyan Seasoning

                 A traditional libyan dish that features seasoned meat sandwiched between two slices of potatoes which is then deep fried. The batter was bland and the potatoes were underseasoned, which I think the restaurant recognizes as they tried to garnish the dish with some greens. They could have saved the batter had they mixed some herbs into it instead, to give it some color and flavour. That being said, the meat inside (which I’m assuming was beef, as that’s what it tasted like) was seasoned perfectly and really showcased libyan seasoning well. The whole thing was actually a pretty decent appetizer, and at $3 I think it was totally worth the money. Keep in mind though, we did receive an extra piece as there were 3 of us but even at 2 pieces for $3, I would still think the value is there.

Main

Mendi ($20.00)

Steamed Lamb, Rice, Side Salad, Vegetable Soup

                 Lamb appears to be common in north african cuisine so I was definitely excited to try their version of it here. I’m glad to say it didn’t disappoint — First of all, I was ecstatic that it came on the bone instead of the alternative. The meat was extremely tender and was literally falling off the bone. The color was quite vibrant and the fat from the lamb melted in your mouth, akin to butter. The rice was balanced beautifully and cooked to perfection and seemed to just soak up all the juices and fat from the lamb. The vegetable soup it came with was not as stellar; The carrots were basically mush and the peppers and onions were slightly overcooked as well. The broth they were in was rather mild but did have a very minor kick left behind as an aftertaste. One good thing about the soup was the potatoes weren’t over or under cooked and were actually pretty fantastic. It’s a shame the rest of the soup didn’t receive the same type of attention.

Grilled Chicken ($19.00) and a side of Couscous ($6.00)

Whole Chicken Legs with Rice, Couscous with Grilled Onions and Chickpeas

                 The highlight of the night came in the surprising form of simple grilled chicken. This white meat was some of the most tender chicken I’ve ever had while being fantastically seasoned and grilled to perfection. The chicken wasn’t dried out like you would expect, so you know the chef knew what he was doing here. It’s downright crispy in spots and aboslutely bursts with flavour on every bite — this definitely took me onto the streets of Morocco and I could almost picture the hustle and bustle of standing there eating from a street vendor. There was again rice here and I’m so glad it was — amazing compliment to an already perfect dish. At the time of ordering I settled on this instead of the Chicken Tagine (an authentic libyan dish, I wanted to try it for the first time) and thought I would be missing out but I really was not disappointed at all!

                 As for the couscous, it had grilled onions on top and was mixed with chickpeas. We ended up barely touching it due to the amount of rice that came with the other dishes but I found it didn’t pack much flavour. For those that enjoy that, this might be a good thing to get instead of the rice.

Final Thoughts

                 The Bedouins seems to be a little family run operation that puts an emphasis on family and makes you feel like you’ve come home for dinner. While there were some misses, the overall experience was elevated by the home runs they hit as well as the stellar service that was given. While I’m sure the local neighbourhood knows all about the place, anyone outside of Castle Downs won’t be disppointed for trying this one out. If you are pretty adventurours, make sure you ask your server for recommendations, as everything ours suggested was an absolute delight to eat.

For pictures of food that I’m eating or sneak peeks into reviews I will be doing in the future, check out my instagram and don’t forget to follow for all future updates!

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