One of the nights during my stay in Tunis, we were invited to Angelina. A place that many consider as the reference in dining and entertainment around the country. This restaurant, well decorated and nicely built, promises to take you into a Mediterranean culinary experience. After trying it, I didn't understand why people are so infatuated by it...
You will discover a very cozy restaurant with a nice garden area, where French inspired dishes are served. At a first glance, don't expect much: You enter the restaurant through a simple door that takes you into an old building. The entrance didn't feel so welcoming and honestly I didn't get that vibes that I was entering into a fine dining place... Nevertheless the place is nicely designed starting with the inner court with its chandeliers, brick walls, paintings, wooden chairs, square tables covered with white cloths and the chimney on two levels creating a warm ambiance, suitable for romantic dinners. Video clips are projected all night on the left walls. While further ahead is the terrace, where we spent the evening. Our table was set on a burgundy brick floor surrounded by plants and trees where we experienced the unique "Marina" and the live BBQ grill.
Unique indeed. Imagine a singer with a whole lot of different noises roaring in your ears... Loud sounds from the singer's voice shouting rather than singing (which I kept hearing for a few days afterwards): She doesn't even have one single positive musical note. She just shouts! Please let her go learn how to sing! All this mixed with the smell of grill, adding to that disturbing smell of cigarettes and smoke which made my eyes burn and my throat hurt. Inside the closed space, it wasn't better. Too much smoke with excruciating sounds of the high base of the speakers which guarantees indigestion. For me, that was it: I couldn't appreciate anything else.
Imported by the Andalusians in the sixteenth century, jasmine has become the national flower of Tunisia. The gathering takes place at dawn and then, upon nightfall, when young boys collect small bouquets, and later sell them to passersby on the street or to motorists stopped at intersections. Furthermore, jasmine is the subject of a specific sign language. A man who wears jasmine on his left ear indicates that he is single and in addition, offering white jasmine is seen as a proof of love while on the contrary, offering odourless winter jasmine is a sign of insolence. At Angelina, a Jasmine flower is offered for every guest and later on, the famous man in his traditional outfit arrives to distribute Jasmine necklaces to the girls.
The chef's suggestions:
- Champignons Lactaires grilles a L'huile D'Olive
- Poelee de Giroles Sautees ail Persil
- Risotto Giroles, Parmesan, Mascarpone
- Accompagnement Giroles ala creme
- Becasse Rotie en Cocotte
- Tarte Tatin Tiede et Sa Glace Vanille
The menu sections:
- Les Entrees Chaudes
- Les Entrees Froides
- Un Souffle S'air Italien
- Nos Viandes Cuisinees
- Un Petit Air Marin De Votre Assiette
- Nos Garnitures D'accompagnements au Choix
- Nos Sauces au Choix
- Mais Aussi Notre BBQ Pour Un diner a la Campagne
- Une Touche de Gourmandise Pour Terminer
Most of us ordered from the chef's suggestions and ended up eating plates that were all based on mushrooms. Dinner started with the square plate of Harissa, Tajine and Tapenade, which were all tasty. The food is good, acceptable but I would have surely enjoyed better if there was less cigarette smoke around. I liked the generosity of the Risotto portion I ordered. The mix of ingredients, the seasoning, the freshness of the mushrooms and the crunchy Parmesan slices on top. It's definitely not a fine dining restaurant as finesse is missing in all dishes.
Two wines that amazed me:
Magon Red Wine: What can’t be said about Magon wine, ubiquitous in Tunisia and named after the inspiration for Tunisian wine? Your standard Magon bottle will be found anywhere and everywhere – Tunisair even serves Magon if you request wine on your flight. Its popularity does not mean that it is bad – quite the contrary. Magon Rouge is a good and inexpensive choice for a standard wine. A bottle of Magon at the grocery store will cost about 7.500 Dinars and at a restaurant anywhere between 15 to 20 Dinars. It is made up of a blend of Syrah and Merlot and aged in bottles for over a year. Magon pairs well with beef dishes as well, and is in fact a competitor to Chateau Defleur, if it is a bit heavier. As an inexpensive standard wine, however, Magon does not disappoint when you consider the cost.
Domaine Neferis: D'Istinto Magnifique white wine:Nestled in a mountainous amphitheater in Grombalia, Domaine Neferis is well sited for the production of quality wine. The slopes channel sea breezes and the elevation gives an extended growing season. Domaine Neferis is the Tunisian land-owning partner. Calatresi, a high quality Sicilian venture, makes the wines. However, the thinking here is Tunisian, with added influence from Australian winemakers helping to gain the best expression from the wines. The estate is progressive in other areas too: the wines are made by Tunisia’s only female winemaker, and the winery is experimenting with solar power for its needs. I can say that Magnifique is one of the tastiest white wines I've ever tasted.
I honestly didn't like the experience and still don't understand what the fuss is all about... and what everybody likes about this restaurant. The music is disastrous, average food and bad ventilation quality. Not one of my favorite nights to say, specially when you have Marina jumping on the plates in front of you.