It had been years since The Monster tried Tagine. Maybe the Ryan Gosling connection (part owner) subconsciously worked against going as if his mere presence (in person or just the residue of him) might cause any women at the table (and some men of course) to lose themselves in silly fits of rapturous love.
Or maybe as sometimes happens The Monster just plain forgot about Tagine. And then the hankering for Moroccan hit and sadly Chameau is no more and where else to go and so Tagine it is and…
…What has The Monster been waiting for all these years? It’s a sliver of a space, dark and sexy (though a little uncomfortable for tables of four given the layout) with efficient service and some lovely food. All those wonderful Moroccan spices, sweet and savory and full bodied and rich, there really is little else like it.
Complementary soup and appetizers start you off and then it is a whirlwind of dishes, hummus with marinated olives, sautéed eggplant and Berbere bread. Bastilla, phyllo dough with Cornish hen and scrambled eggs, sprinkled with saffron and powdered sugar. Black tiger shrimp with a cauliflower purée and marinated carrots, finished with extra virgin olive oil. Scallop bastilla, phyllo dough with dry scallops, caramelized shallots and Brussels sprouts, topped with a honey sauce.
All the starters are pretty marvelous. So much flavor, a trip to Morocco seems like it must be in the offing. Perhaps the only quibble here is price, Tagine is not a deal with starters in the $10-$23 range.
Main course choices are the farm-raised lemon chicken couscous and the steamed stripe bass served with a sweet pea purée and zucchini. Again, the question begs asking, why has The Monster not been coming here regularly? Both dishes are wonderful. Both dishes showcase a deft hand with ingredients. Both dishes make The Monster want to be a regular.
As for dessert, there is only one on offer, chocolate soup served with vanilla ice cream and baklava and luckily it is a hit. Along with Moroccan mint tea it is a perfect way to end a surprising meal.
With Moroccan the bastard step-child of the LA dining scene, Tagine is a worthy spot to hit when the mood strikes.
Why go? You heart Gosling.
Monster rating: 4½/5 Monsters
132 North Robertson Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90211