You’ll feel like you’re on the pulse of a remarkable new wave in Marrakech.
You step outside the doors of your riad to find another scorching hot day in Marrakech. You feel the dry desert air upon your skin as a donkey runs past you, brushing against your arm. Breathing in the air, you can smell thousands of years of history: orange blossom, African spices, gasoline, and smoke envelop your nose. The streets are dusty and maze-like, cars unable to enter the narrow pathways. You turn left, right, left, and left again, and your head spins, unable to orient yourself. The sameness of the red brick walls sends you into a daze.
Like a mirage, you see people smiling as they enter through an unassuming door. You decide to follow, curious as to what could be inside. Slowly, you walk through the doors and hear sparrows chirping and a man playing live guitar. You look to your left and see fresh fruits and vegetables on display, and as your eyes wander down, you see a small turtle crawling on the green-tiled floor. You realize that this is not a mirage, you have stumbled upon a garden oasis. A waiter approaches you and smiles, “Welcome to Le Jardin”.
More than a restaurant, Le Jardin is a sanctuary, a place for people to enjoy and unwind. Situated within a renovated 16th century, two-story open air building, this bohemian paradise combines Moroccan hospitality and food with a chic European flair. The sleek and comfortable environment is the perfect place for any occasion.
Le Jardin offers a wide selection of Moroccan dishes with unique twists and sophisticated presentation, such as a delicious chicken tagine with sweet pears rather than the traditional Moroccan tagine with citrus and olives. Their pigeon pastilla is an incredible mix of sweet and savory, with an outer pie layer of filo dough, stuffed with ground pigeon, almonds, and ras el hanout, topped with cinnamon and sugar. But if you’ve had enough tagine and couscous since traveling through the country, Le Jardin also provides fresh fruit juices and international dishes.
This lush haven is restaurateur Kamal Laftimi’s third restaurant in the Medina. Born and raised in Marrakech, Laftimi believes that Le Jardin “does not belong to [him], but to the customers”. After traveling the world, Laftimi has taken what he knows from different cultures and has elegantly created a space for customers to enjoy Marrakech in a chic and modern way. With the help of expats living in Morocco, Laftimi stylishly fuzes together European posh with Moroccan cuisine and culture.
Eating a meal at Le Jardin will make you feel as though you are on the pulse of a remarkable new wave happening in Marrakech. The restaurant is representative of the next generation of Moroccan entrepreneurs who are capitalizing on what they have experienced in places like Spain, France, and Italy, and displaying Marrakech in a new and exciting way. Laftimi has not only created a restaurant, but a place for artists and travelers to meet and create something truly beautiful.
Photos: Gillian Rose
Gillian spent 6 days in Marrakech during summer of 2018.