Despite what I told you when the it opened, which was based on what a manager told me at the time, TajineXpress is not a full service restaurant but rather, as the name would imply, more of a quick-service operation. The Xpress sort of gave that away, but the gentleman I spoke to at the time, back in April, insisted that it merely conveyed a cooking technique the restaurant was using that allowed them to prepare tajine dishes faster than the usual two hours.
That said, the staff at TajineXpress was so friendly and accommodating. And the food, delivered to the table on basket trays and served on earthenware plates, all made it feel like a full dining experience.
I started with a bowl of harira soup, the vegetarian version with lentils and chickpeas in the tomatoey broth (beef is another option). The soup was not as spicy as some versions can be but it had the appropriately smooth texture to the broth. It was served with a traditional Moroccan carved wood spoon and accompanied by small round Moroccan bread loaves and dates, a customary pairing for the soup.
I was intrigued by the beef with prunes tajine, which was a stew of meat chunks and onions with whole prunes and slivered almonds strewn atop. I chose rice to go with it, which I thought was better use for the juices. The meat could have been a bit less fatty, but I did like the myriad spicing.
The lemon chicken tajine wasn’t as exciting. It featured a half chicken stewed with olives and slices of lemons though the lemon seasoning was muted. For this dish I chose the side dish of beans, known as loubia, white beans cooked with tomatoes, onions, garlic and various spices. They were delicious and I could have made a meal of them alone.
It’s customary for Moroccans to eat with their hand, which is probably why the utensils that are provided are woefully insufficient and flimsy plastic. If you want to dine in, try eating with your hand (right hand only); if you’d rather use a knife and fork, get the food to go and tear into it at home.
The young people behind the counter couldn’t have been more welcoming. The dining room is a deeply bright blue and is decorated potted-plant wall hangings. Tabletops are tiled mosaics and the chairs are an uncomfortable metal weave. You don’t want to spend a lot of time sitting on them.
I guess that’s where the express really comes in.
TajineXpress is at 971 N. Goldenrod Road, Orlando (map). It is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. The phone number is 407-233-4179.