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Mecca Grill is changing course from Lebanese to Moroccan cuisine

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Last year Mecca Grill was bought by a Moroccan family who had been looking at starting their own Moroccan restaurant. But rather than changing the name to something like Morocco Grill, the new owners decided to keep the name -- and Mecca Grill's Lebanese menu, at least for now. See also: Best Middle Eastern Restaurant 2012 -- Mecca Grill

Over the next six months, they plan to incorporate such Moroccan dishes as slow-cooked tagines (named for the tagine, the cone-shaped dish that the meats and vegetables are cooked and served in), fluffy couscous mounded with meats and vegetables, and bistilla, a sweet and savory pie traditionally made with pigeon, though chicken is now a common substitute.

Moroccan and Lebanese cuisines do overlap. Both include grilled meat skewers known as kefta/kafta, bread used as a utensil, chickpeas, lamb, and a version of the curry-like seven-spice powder. But two iconic Lebanese items, hummus and pita, are not widespread in Morocco, a North African country separated from Spain by the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.

In Morocco, chickpeas are more likely to be added whole to couscous dishes and tagines, and flat discs of bread are more likely to be made with whole wheat flour, anise and sesame seeds. "Hummus is not Moroccan," says one of Mecca Grill's new owners, "but that's what we like about Lebanese food. We think it's a good addition."

Find out if you should visit Mecca Grill now, while Lebanese is still the main event rather than an adjunct, when my review is posted here tomorrow.


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