Sultan's Tent and the associated Cafe Moroc do deserve a few words and more than one visit as your experience might be quite different depending upon when you visit. With all the recent development around St. Lawrence Market, there are a lot more people strolling on Front Street at all times. Sultan's Tent is ever-present with a sidewalk sign and a prominent hanging one above, hard to miss it.
We walked through the pointed arch entrance and were submerged into the atmosphere right away. Some French music was playing as we walked through Cafe Moroc into the dining area without meeting a single soul. Admittedly, we were there early, it was barely 6pm. After meeting our host, we were escorted even deeper into the restaurant. The main dining area had lower seating structures reminiscent of tents with thin fabric walls - orange, warm brows and some green colors persisting.
We studied the menu for a few moments. It had a red leather cover and with warm beige pages and borders throughout. While decorative, it remained elegant, nicely themed and spaced out.
Shortly after we settled among the cushions, our waiter David came over and offered water as well as a quick rundown of what's good. We followed some of his recommendations Moroccan Cigar (Maftoul), Braised Harigma Beef Cheeks as well as some Hummus and a Lamb Shank. While there was a prix-fixe menu option for $55 (which was also the weekend minimum), David recommended to go a-la-carte instead. We could not help thinking about bed bugs and dust potentially collected by the vast number of pillows lining the benches. This unhealthy paranoia could only be fixed by wine, so we ordered Cabernet Shiraz from Jacobs Creek (fairly safe choice considering we were not certain on what kind of flavors our dishes will deliver) and another Shiraz this time from Don Couragu, South Africa.
The initial soundtrack of old French songs morphed into something Turkish sounding and eventually became a more generic lounge music. Glancing around and waiting for our order, we noticed the intricate lanterns on our table as well as the unique, large and slowly rotating fans everywhere. There were also several ottomans around us with a short back support, contrasted by the tall chairs at the regualr tables - different seating areas but yet nicely coexisting in the same theme.
Another signature dish we briefly considered was Harira Soup - tomato based with lentils chickpeas and Moroccan spice. Sounded very interesting, but we had a feeling our order would already deliver plenty of food. Maftoul - Moroccan cigar - was probably the most unique dish we tried that day. The ground beef was mixed in with some raisins and wrapped in a fried phyllo, later on drizzles with spicy chipotle aioli. It was a very flavorful, a tad spicy but a very interesting choice. These cigars went very well with our Shiraz. Next came our hummus. We were somewhat surprised by the crisp pita served. While it was home-made, we did not find anything extraordinary about the humus itself. A nice touch was to put a bit of their unique El Ouzzania olive oil and a few marinated olives on the side. The main dishes were large and very flavorful. Harigma Beef Cheeks were praised by our waiter as a unique meat rarely served in restaurants. It was unique indeed - definitely cooked for a long time to a great degree of tenderness, as one dug into the dish it came off like pulled pork. It was was served with chickpea ragu, caramelized onions, raisins and almonds. The Lamb Shank had caramelized dates, cashews, saffron rice and seasoned veggies with meat falling of the bones. We were pleasantly surprised that the lamb was not too pungent, but still with a distinct taste. The side dish combinations with the meats were remarkable and we found that being the most enjoyable part of our experience.
Hard to tell whether Sultan's Tent truly offers an authentic Moroccan fare, as we have never been exposed to the true cuisine of that area. At any rate, it was an interesting experience for us with some original dishes in a non-standard setting. Now, we need to come back during their belly dancing show - to experience their colourful, energetic vibe.