What the press is saying about our couscous and tagines...
An ideal meal starts with the bastilla, pulled chicken and almonds jammed into brik dough and fried until crispy, like a giant square spring roll. It’s topped with a thick layer of confectioner’s sugar, a touch that works so well you may recklessly wonder why more appetizers aren’t frosted. For the main dishes, the bistro basics, especially the steak au poivre, are dependably good, and the couscous is filling. But the tagine (lamb, chicken, or kefta) is the showstopper... If you ordered the lamb, swollen prunes, fat apricots, and egg-shaped potatoes hug two giant shanks sunk in a still-bubbling broth; the prunes collapse into a sweet, jammy mess the second they’re touched. Shovel some of the fruit over meat pulled clean from the bone, add slivered almonds for crunch, and it’s a perfect bite.
The tajines are so damn good. These seem to be finished in the conical clay contraption from which the dish takes its name, which is nothing short of wonderful... Does the charred clay add to the flavor? Not sure, but it certainly adds to the pleasure of eating. My favorite tajine features eggs and kefta in what amounts to a Creole sauce, chunky with tomatoes and green peppers.
The Williamsburg space is vast, but the soft lighting and winding layout around a dark-stained bar gives the place an intimate feel, making it a good option for a date or drink while still lending itself to larger groups. Many of the recipes on the heavily French and Algerian menu have been passed down in the family for years and have been tested and perfected in the kitchen of the original restaurant in the distinguished Marais district of Paris. While the tagines are flavorful, and artfully spiced, the real draws are the family-style couscouses; try the tender rack of lamb or the kefta, with generously portioned beef meatballs.
[Bar Omar] is an excellent date spot with an affinity for Parisian fare. The French, Algerian and Moroccan menu is served family-style; highlights include the Couscous Royal, Homemade Merguez Sausage and Organic Lamb Tagine for two.
The restaurant is authentic without trying to be—it lacks the stereotypical decor that many North African and French restaurants in this city play up.... And of course, the food is good. The chicken meat fell off the bone in my tagine and the couscous was moist, dense, and somehow airy at the same time.
Those tawny sandstorms of steamed semolina (which Guerda is fond of noting is the third favorite meal of the French) have been flawlessly replicated, served family-style with a savory seven vegetable stew and a choice of meats, such as roast chicken, beef brochettes or, best of all, links of lean housemade merguez, along with a saucer of the Maghrebian hot pepper paste, harissa.
“Everything was really delicious. My favorite was the Chicken Bastilla – it was different than anything I ever had... Overall Bar Omar hit the G-spot and gets a 9/10.”
We had dinner at a great, inexpensive Moroccan restaurant in the 3ème called Chez Omar. The specialty is couscous, and the various stews you ladle over it. Alex had the chicken, I had the vegetables, but I hear we really missed out on the Royal, which is a big mess of meat. Served family style, the food was unpretentious, light and so healthy...
Chez Omar is great for couscous and North African cuisine, and its steak au poivre is a dish we have come to crave with regularity since its discovery some years back!
I’ve been coming to Chez Omar ever since I arrived in Paris. It’s a favourite of mine for its friendly waiters, vintage bistro setting, cheerfully eclectic diners – Marais gallerists, fashionistas, gay couples, families – and, of course, the... well-prepared couscous, with a choice of mechoui, grilled lamb kebabs, merguez sausage or vegetarian. I usually go for the kebabs, with a big vat of stewed vegetables, harissa if you want, and a platter of couscous grain.
A celebrity-fashion hub that caters to the likes of John Galliano, Madonna and Janet Jackson, Chez Omar nonetheless possesses an old-world charm and is inexpensive.
I never really had a thing for couscous, until I had a taste of Chez Omar’s in Paris.