For a lunch with the team, we wanted a cuisine that we don't have very often - Afghani, Iranian or something like that. We ended up on Sahara, a Moroccan place, upstairs on Swanston Street.
Ascending the stairs, I liked to think we were a group of nomadic adventurers in search for authentic Moroccan cuisine. In reality, we were a bunch of office workers looking for a reasonably priced nosh and hoping to be done within our lunch hour.
After our trek, we found ourselves transported into another world. Colourful lamps, brightly coloured seats and rainbow cushions, sunlight streaming through the intricate windows, ornate plates on display on the walls.
It was a mid-week lunch, so we weren't expecting many people here, but it was empty. Just our table for the whole hour.
We all went for the corporate lunch menu - a selection of mains for about $16 each. A few of us went for the lamb tagine. Tender braised diced lamb with prunes, apricots, nuts and olives, served with pilaf. The serving size is pretty generous - lots of lamb.... and I mean a lot. Flavourwise, we were all expecting it to be punchier - we reckon that they may have toned down the spices to make it more appealing to more people. There was also a lot of fruit in my dish - squidgy chunks of stone fruit - although Mr C had very little fruit in his dish.
A couple of the guys went for the Moroccan shish - grilled lamb w hummus, lettuce and tzatziki and flat bread. While the guys liked the dish, I think they would have liked an extra skewer of lamb.
Food – 6.5
Ambience – 8
Service – 6.5
Price – 7
We all liked the place - it's quite atmospheric inside and I can imagine it'd be quite nice on a balmy day for drinks here. While the food was generous, none of us felt the meal was memorable. It was okay but nothing about it made any of us think 'we should come back again'. Also, while the service was friendly, it was a bit slow - rather disconcerting since we were the only table on the day... makes you wonder how they'd cope when it gets busy.
I'd go back for drinks and to hang out there but I probably wouldn't eat there.
Level 1, 301 Swanston St
Telephone: 9663 8477