Review: The Benevolent King

first impression | This place is appealing from the minute you step in the door. The bohemian ambience offers mismatched seating and exotic Moroccan touches like gold-trimmed tumblers and whimsical paintings of desert creatures dressed as bedouins. It’s the newest restaurant by Ben Poremba, and as an Israeli of Moroccan descent, he knows this food well.

Everything about this place is enticing, except maybe the portion sizes. The menu combinations and flavors are interesting but not forced. Most of all, it’s got ambience (including a fabulous patio out front), and that, plus delicious food, pretty much guarantees the ideal dining experience.

wash it down
Bartender and GM Tony Saputo is as gifted as he is welcoming. He’s created 18 imaginative quaffs, including Six, a refreshing combo of green Chartreuse and framboise lambic, and Saputo’s No. 1 recommendation, The Mauresque. A new take on an old French cocktail, it blends the anise aperitif Pastis with almond syrup and notes of apricot, lime and clove.

must try
» masbacha | $15 | a chickpea-tahini mash topped with ragu. The whipped, rich spread comes piled with ground lamb fragrant from exotic spicing like cumin and coriander, quintessential Middle Eastern flavors.
» roasted cauliflower | $12 | a plateful of florets that are both crunchy and creamy (most likely from tahini), with undertones of cinnamon and cumin—unexpected but oh so good. The veggies were browned and slightly oily, and tossed with kadaif, bits of crisped, thin, Turkish noodles.
» the mezze platter | $18 | an array of house-cured meats that are all delicious and span the range of cured possibilities, from peppery sturgeon pastrami (a fish with
coriander, mustard and clove seasonings) to meaty prosciutto and bacon. They were served with toasted challah, the Jewish egg bread that makes everything taste better.
» briouat | $14 | deep-fried, these look like simple chicken roulettes, but there was much more to them. Inside, the ground chicken was laced with sweet date honey, savory turmeric and cinnamon.
» rose custard | $8 | elegantly served in a stemmed glass, it comes with an exotic ruby-red raspberry-rosewater syrup, coconut flakes and candied pecans. The combination is sweet and subtle.
» my mom’s cookies | $10 | If you’ve ever wondered what Moroccan baking is like, order these. Perfect for a table of four, the doughy delights are filled alternately with sesame seeds, figs/dates, ground nuts, lemon and chocolate.
» mint tea | a hot infusion served in ornate Moroccan glasses topped with fresh spearmint sprigs—refreshing and an authentic finale.

7268 Manchester Road | 314.899.0440

the dish | Fresh farmer’s cheese with dill, fennel pollen, dried mint and crudités