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Simo's: Moroccan Delights
Post-earthquake update June 2011/21 November 2012
Like so many places, Simo's is located in the Red Zone, with high-rise buildings considered unsafe. So there is no way at the moment to indulge in the beautiful food of this restaurant.
BUT: Simo's continues trading from his deli in Lincoln Road, opposite the Addington coffee co-op.
3/300 Lincoln Road
Phone: (03) 338 2882
Tue - Sat 10am - 9 pm
Simo's - named after the award-winning chef and owner - celebrates the art of slow cooking and infusing the food with herbs, spices, oils and fragrant waters. In fact you can taste all the ingredients, from cumin to coriander, and lemon to sweet paprika. The various herbs and spices do not kill but complement each other, it is like an explosion of flavours on the palate.
The meats are tender as, nearly melting in the mouth. They are cooked in the tagine which is a special casserole with a conic lid. The fish is cooked to perfection after being infused with chermoula which is a mix of coriander, garlic, paprika, chili, cumin, lemon juice, olive oil and more. The vegetables are perfectly crunchy. Most dishes are served on a bed of couscous.
The presentation is fabulous. The desserts top it all. The home-made ice-cream (including such a rare delight like cinnamon ice-cream) and seasonal fruit comes on a square plate with four different compartments, so you can indulge in every single flavour and do not get a confusing mixture. The chocolate and hazelnut torte with macerated figs is a delight but if you want to try this you should arrive rather hungry... ;-)
The dishes are mainly but not strictly Moroccan or North African. The best example for other influences is a starter platter with dishes from around the Mediterranean, including Greek stuffed wine leaves (dolma) or Andalusian tapas including spicy sausage. The only not so perfectly cooked dish I have tried was the stuffed baby squid which was still a bit rubbery.
There are interesting aperitifs on the wine list, and turkish coffee.
The ambiance is cosy, with dimmed light, candles, nice table cloths, and lots of North African decoration which includes the tiled reception and gold-varnished mirrors. The atmosphere seduces you to eat slowly and relax, right in the spirit of North African way of being and cooking. The service is super friendly, the chinaware beautiful and the cutlery even unique - the knives and forks seem to have their own life...
Favorite Dish: The market-fresh fish with a really big portion of fish of the day which must have rested quite some time in its chermoula to soak up all those aromatic fragrances. You really taste all the herbs and spices, especially the coriander and a hint of cumin. I also love the fresh, crunchy vegetables and the grilled cherry tomatoes which come with the fish. Although it is a light meal it is totally satisfying.
Update 26 July 2010
Simo's has in the meantime relocated to the premises of the Crowne Plaza hotel on Victoria Square, just two blocks north of Cathedral Square.
Open Tue - Sun, closed on Mon
Simo's also has a deli (takeaways) in 143 Colombo Street, in the suburb of Sydenham (about 3 km south of Cathedral Square, on the way to the Port Hills).
Update 15 February 2011
We were at Simo's yesterday. They had opened on a Monday for Valentine's Day and had set menus at NZ$ 65 per person, including mini tapas before the entrées and "palate cleansers"before the mains. The starters were sensational (prawn/chicken cocktail and quail/something...). The fish was a bit disappointing, compared to the fish I had previously eaten several times, it was just good but lacked the sensational infused herbs and spices. The lamb tagine was fantastic. The chocolate variations as dessert were a treat.
Despite the nice food, it was unacceptable having to wait one hour for the main courses. It looked as if they only started to serve the mains after everyone in the restaurant had had the starters.
The decoration is still very nice although the intimacy and more romantic feel of the old place has gone - of course. The food did not come in the tagines anymore, just plain white chinaware. Also a little minus for that.
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