by Cheryl Baehr
This week I visit Baida (3191 South Grand Boulevard; 314-932-7950), shockingly, the first Moroccan restaurant in the area. Finally, St. Louisans have a place to go when that insatiable couscous craving hits.
Here is a sneak preview of my thoughts -- the full review will be online tomorrow and in this week's issue.
Some restaurants are defined by that one special dish. For Carl's Deli, it's the Reuben, at Mai Lee the killer pho, and no one should leave Lombardo's without the toasted ravioli.
At Baida, that dish is the m'lwee.
The m'lwee, like the rest of Baida's menu, is very traditional Moroccan fare, made all the more surprising by the fact that the chef is an American. Owners Abder and Assia Meskine enlisted chef Jeremy Bowman (formerly of Lola and Eleven Eleven Mississippi) to help them translate their vision, and spent days pouring over Assia's recipes and giving Bowman a crash course in Moroccan cuisine. The result is a menu that features traditional homemade specialties true to their North African origins married with the experience required to run a professional kitchen. Entrusting a stranger to carry forth the culinary heritage of their country was a gamble.
How well did it pay off for the Meskines? Check back to read my review tomorrow and see photographer Jennifer Silverberg's slideshow tour of Baida.