Spice Road Table is the newest restaurant to open at Epcot, part of the Morocco pavilion in the World Showcase. Not inside the pavilion, mind you, outside, in front of it, on the shore of the lagoon. It’s a setup much like what opened last year at the Mexico pavilion.
And a bit different, too. At Mexico’s La Hacienda, there’s a full-service side (inside) and a counter service window on the open patio. Also, the full-service side isn’t open for lunch (although diners are welcome to take their food purchased from the counter inside to eat at one of the tables in the air-conditioned room).
At Spice Road Table, the same menu is available for both lunch and dinner, and full service is offered inside and out.
The menu isn’t exclusively Moroccan. By giving it a Spice Road theme, the developers were able to widen the scope, borrowing from the dishes and flavors of the countries along the legendary explorers’ route. And the various dishes are presented as Mediterranean Small Plates (thank you for not calling them tapas).
I was invited to try several of the dishes as part of a media dinner recently. Oddly, what was missing from a number of the plates I sampled was spice. But that can be easily remedied. Just be sure whatever you order to request a side of harissa. The hot chili pepper paste can perk up any palate.
We started with a fairly tame platter of hummus and olives, interspersed with piquant cornichons. The fried calamari was nicely done with just a light jacket and crisped without being oily. It was served with a caper aioli and the much preferred harissa.
The spicy garlic shrimp were firm and sprinkled with not enough dried peppers.
I liked the lamb sliders more than anything else I sampled. The meat was appropriately gamey with complimentary spicing for a change. The little patties were served on seeded brioche buns with a sprinkling of mint tzatziki (which I could have used more of).
The skewered beef was beautifully cooked and seemed to be a high quality. The chicken skewer, on the other hand, was dry.
For dessert there were assorted baklavas (baklavi?), a chocolate pyramid with almond ice cream, and a saffron and lemon custard that resembled a creme brulee.
The decor may offer the most authenticity. Owner Rashid Choufani said the tapestries that hang on the wall and the light fixtures over the tables are all from Morocco. The indoor tables, by the way, are metallic with a beautiful pressed pattern.
A key feature of the new restaurant is that it puts guests closer to the Illuminations production. There are views of the fireworks from both outside and inside, and the accompanying music is piped in, too. However, there is an island in the lagoon in the sight line of the video globe that figures prominently in the production.
Spice Road Table is open for lunch and dinner daily. Plates are priced from $7 to $12; the yummy sliders are $8. It does not accept dining plans and does not accept reservations.