I recently had the opportunity to take a few of my close friends out for an unforgettably delicious and entertaining night out. I first heard about The Sultan’s Tent about a year ago. I remember standing waiting for a streetcar and seeing a large poster advertisement for their dinner and belly dance show. I was intrigued and am so pleased I finally got the chance to experience their Moroccan and French fusion menu first hand.
For decades the original Sultan’s Tent at Bay and Yorkville entertained groups of diners in Toronto seeking an evening of entertainment, good food, romance and fun in a transporting traditional Moroccan experience. The original Sultan’s Tent was closed in 2002 when its location was slated for demolition to make way for a high-rise. Purchased from the original “Sultan, Nagi (now retired), The Sultan’s Tent & Cafe Moroc has been relocated a stones throw from St. Lawrence Market at 49 Front Street East in downtown Toronto.
Glowing on the wall near the entrance is a magnificent hand woven rug, a gift of the present King of Morocco’s father, Hassan II, who inspired a renaissance in the country’s arts and crafts. As far back as history is recorded, Northwest Africa and the Barbery Coast of pirate lore has been at the geographical and cultural crossroads of Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The result is an intoxicating blend of cultures. The indigenous Berbers, plus Arabian, Spanish, English and French influences have created a unique mix of craft, culture and cuisine in one of the world’s most artistic nations, Morocco. Moroccan traditions of hospitality were born of the Berbers’ nomadic life. A Sultan (Prince or ruler) would have a beautifully decorated tent with intimate alcoves, and these were echoed when they built even more lavish royal palaces. The Sultan’s Tent evokes the setting of a traditional “diffa” (lavish banquet) at which all are welcome and where the dining philosophy was one of abundance and entertainment was merry.
I arrived on a Thursday night after work and was taken aback at how stunning the space was. I had organized a lengthy menu in advance and was excited to sample the restaurants unique offerings with my friends.
Disclosure: to be honest I wasn’t expecting to be overtly impressed by the kitchen’s offerings. Dinner and theatre spots typically focus their energies on decorum and dancing rather than making sure their food is top notch. I can testify (and so can my pictures) that their food is fantastic. The Sultan’s Tent offers up a wide array of menu offerings, from the quintessential Lamb Stew to French Steak Frites. We were ridiculously excited when each individual tent had its fabric walls removed and the pound of electric Moroccan belly dancing beats filled the room. My girlfriends Erica and Mel strapped on belly dancing belts and went to town.
If you find yourself tired of the same old evening and are looking for a delicious and entertaining night out, gather your lover (and a few of your best friends) for a truly unforgettable evening under a tent. If you do make a visit just ensure to start with their sparkling cocktail and finish with a hot pot of their traditional mint tea!
We enjoyed (* notes my favorites):
HARIRA A *
hearty tomato based broth, with chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils and a blend of Moroccan spices.
CITRUS MARINATED OLIVES
Moroccan, Lebanese and Greek olives finished with French herbs, zatar spice and toasted sesame.
DUCK CONFIT SALAD *
Baby lettuces and chopped romaine, dressed with a Champagne-pomegranate vinaigrette, tossed with fresh fine cut vegetables, cherry tomatoes and tangerines.
Tenderloin & sirloin tips roasted with celery, carrots, onions and mushrooms. Served over garlic mashed mini-red potatoes. A traditional french stew from Burgundy.
A vibrant salad of cucumber, tomato, apple and chickpeas with a citrus mint dressing.
Hand rolled “Moroccan Cigars”, hot crispy pastry stuffed with a mixture of mildly spiced beef, cashews and raisins. Topped with a our chipotle aioli.
CHÈVRE BRULÉE *
Sugar flamed imported aged Rondin de Poitu goat cheese, served with red onion jam and a port cassis syrup.
A classic Moroccan pastry both savory and sweet, filled with chicken, eggs, almonds, caramelized onions and saffron, lightly sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon.
APRICOT LAMB TAGINE *
Slow braised lamb stewed with dried apricots, onions, carrots, Moroccan spices and garlic. Served over a bed of fluffy couscous accented with chicken broth and preserved butter.
MOROCCAN BEEF SHORT RIB
Tender fall off the bone beef, braised with Moroccan spices. Finished with a rich red wine demi-glace. Served with Yukon gold-parsnip mash, accompanied by mini Casablanca vegetables.
Fresh seared shrimp, Moroccan octopus, mussels and calamari tossed with leeks, peppers, fennel, oven cured tomatoes and roast garlic. Served over a bed of saffron rice in a vibrant lobster broth, finished with a touch of cream.
RACK OF LAMB A *
full (7-8 bone) rack, grilled to perfection, and topped with a sauce of honey, candied ginger confit and Herbs de Provence. Served with Yukon gold potato-parsnip mash accompanied by mini Casablanca vegetables.
A rich and flavourful crème brulée, topped with lightly crushed pistachios.
CHOCOLATE OASIS A *
decadent blend of semi-sweet chocolate and butter, smothered in powdered sugar.
#290 restaurant reviewed in Ontario since moving to Toronto in 2010.