After strolling around Essaouira’s medina, I was definitely up for a feast. Luckily, my driver Abdullah made reservations at the beachfront restaurant, Chalet de la Plage.
The restaurant is run by a Frenchman called Jeannot and he’s Essaouira institution. People call him the “iconic Beach Chalet boss”. If you look at the resto’s wall of fame, you’d see he’s been photographed by heaps of celebs who’ve been to the Windy City. You won’t miss him because he personally makes sure all the guests are attended to with good hospitality.
We were given a really cool beachfront table. I’ve noticed that rosé wine in Morocco is stunning, but I wanted to check how the whites fare. I ordered half a bottle of Les Celliers de Meknes Les Trois Domaines Guerrouane Blanc, a Sauvignon Blanc that was rather crisp on flavour and slightly dry.
Beachfront dining is quite interesting in Essaouira because of the performers strutting their stuff by the shore for all diners to see. In the course of our meal I witnessed a man playing traditional music and a group of lads doing gymnastic stunts. They do this to earn money so if you do take photos/videos, make sure you do the courtesy of giving them a little something in return.
My starter of a simple green salad may look plain and sad, but I have to tell you, it was super fresh and flavoursome. It reminded me of that salad I had in Savini, Milan (which to date is one of the best I’ve had). Fresh produce do not need to be hidden under blobs of dressing!
I do enjoy a good fish soup in the Summer but nothing I’ve tasted compared to the fish soup at La Vieille Auberge in Cassis until I’ve tried CDLP’s offering.
This was just a starter for one, folks. But there was a massive plate of cheese and croutons. And a heapload of aioli.
The fish soup itself was rich, bold, and full of flavour sans the super fishy aftertaste. The aioli gave it an indescribable BOOM that made you feel at one with the sea.
Monkfish cheeks came grilled and skewered, with a dusting of paprika. It was so fresh, I could cry buckets. And the portion for what I thought was a starter was so generous. It ached me, thinking how cheap this good plate of food was. And how I wished London restaurants can afford to serve fish as fresh at the same big-belly portions without having to charge punters a second mortgage.
Realising food here was as big as the city’s dreams, I wasn’t surprised to see three whole fairly-sized lemon sole for one portion. I was bursting in my clothes from the feast before, but I couldn’t help myself. The fish was absolutely spot on, so delicious, so fresh and so perfectly seasoned.
Chalet de la Plage is a gem and it’s absolutely a place I would recommend over, and over, and over, and over. I still dream about that meal from time to time because during my “Eat, Pray, Love” Moroccan journey it was the one meal that kept me humbled. I remember gazing towards the ocean and being so thankful. My food cost just around £30 and it was so beautiful.
Please go and enjoy the food. And amuse yourselves by chatting to Jeannot.
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Have you been to Essaouira? Where did you eat?