UPDATE: We visited Tantan fairly soon after it had opened, and had a mixed experience. However, comments from others who have been more recently suggest that the standard has deteriorated further. I’d advise reading these comments to get a more accurate picture of how things are now…
When a voucher appeared on the KGB Deals site entitling us to a starter and main course at the recently opened Moroccan restaurant Tantan, it would have been rude not to buy it. Situated on the former site of Dragon Grill (and previously New World Chinese), the restaurant had only been open for seven weeks when we visited on a gloomy Wednesday evening…
With a bar and stage at one end, Tantan are hoping to offer live music to customers in the near future. Decor is in keeping with the Moroccan theme but understated and chic: mosaic-tiled tables, African style metal lamps and warm red colours running through the restaurant.
We were the only ones in the restaurant at 6.30 that evening…normally a cause for concern for me, but it’s a relatively new venue in a location that’s off the beaten track.
We were shown to our table to the restaurant manager – a lovely man who previously ran the Queen Shilling, and with whom Laura and I shared stories of Essex and London…it’s amazing how many people I’ve met since moving here who had an Essex upbringing!
Drinks-wise, there’s a reasonable selection of wines from various countries, starting at £2.95 per glass/£11.95 per bottle. No Moroccan wines on the menu here, though. The bar is very well-stocked (apart from the selection of ciders!) with a range of beers and spirits.
Turning our attentions to the food menu, we were amazed by the amount of choice – and surprised at the prices. Starters begin at only £3.50 and mains at just £5.50. Vegetarians are well catered for, with a choice of four mains including vegetable moussaka (which I’m sure isn’t Moroccan!), along with lentil and bean-based dishes.
I decided to go for my favourite Moroccan starter of harira (£3.50): a traditional lentil and tomato-based soup with spices and chickpeas. A little bland-tasting at first, the flavour developed slightly as I ate more of it, but not to the extent that I was expecting…and I only ended up with about three or four chickpeas.
Laura chose the chourba marinier (£3.95) – a very delicately-flavoured seafood broth with prawns, squid, octopus, tomato, celery onion and herbs, which she enjoyed but said was a little too oily.
Choosing the main course was difficult, but I eventually decided on the Moroccan kofta (£6.95): small, lightly spiced lamb meatballs in a delicious tomato sauce flavoured with coriander and served with rice, salad and olives. The meatballs themselves were tasty and cooked well, the sauce was full of flavour but the rice, bizarrely, was dry and overcooked in the middle.
Laura chose the Moroccan paella (£7.00) and ended up with a huge portion of spiced rice with a variety of seafood and grilled chicken: a main that she was very happy with but couldn’t finish due to its size! Needless to say, we didn’t have space for dessert and so settled the bill and left feeling full.
It’s an interesting place, and the food was mostly enjoyable but by no means perfect. It’ll be interesting to hear what sort of live music they’re planning, and I imagine their shishas will be popular as the weather gets warmer, as they have a decent-sized seating area out the front. I just hope that the location of the restaurant isn’t an issue – it’s slightly off the beaten track, which I believe was an issue for the previous owners…
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