Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Needless to say, Chameau, literally “Camel,” where my wife and I went for dinner last Saturday, does not compare to Benny’s. However, Chameau's modern take on Moroccan cuisine does have merit and the decor is worth mentioning (and dismissing).

The interior is an amalgamation of Marrakech and Pan Am chic. (I'm not sure what Pan Am chic even means, but I do know that the center of Chameau's ceiling was sculpted like the interior of a jet fuselage with a brown fringe rug extending through it.) Sequences of rectangular lamps of loud primary and secondary colors hung over our table and ran parallel to the fuselage. The walls were decorated with several modern Moroccan tiles and latticework as well as some rugs with orange and brown rectangles. Screens with either geometric or dromedarian motifs hung from the ceiling and separated the tables on the wall opposite us. A large camel was also engraved into the screen on the back wall. Christian Liagre would not be impressed.

As for the food, Chameau served a nice appetizer of pan fried sardines with onions and harissa, a dish rarely seen in Los Angeles. My wife thoroughly enjoyed her very fresh, nicely seasoned vegetarian appetizer platter of beets, sweet carrots, tomato pepper salad, eggplant salad, pickled red onion, and whipped goat cheese. My wife’s trout was stuffed with a mousse of preserved lemons and served with roasted artichokes; her dish was distinctive and very tasty as was pretty much anything that the kitchen’s preserved lemons touched. My sea bass was served in a tagine with vegetables over a bed of couscous. The couscous itself was lemony and light and without the graininess that makes my wife regard the Moroccan staple as sand. The fish and vegetables however were bland. The desserts of cinnamon date ice cream and a light, crispy “bastilla au lait,” i.e., fried dough in crème anglaise were good and due to my continued lack of self-control lasted only a few short minutes.

339 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles
(323) 951-0039

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