Baida, St. Louis’ First Moroccan Restaurant, is an Addictive Introduction

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M'lwee might be Baida's signature dish: It's a flaky layered pastry stuffed with kefta (beef), garlic, cumin, coriander, herbs and other spices, then pan-fried. M'lwee is served with harissa on the side.

The m’lwee, like the rest of Baida’s menu, is traditional Moroccan fare, made all the more surprising by the fact that the chef is an American. Owners Abder and Assia Meskine enlisted chef Jeremy Bowman (formerly of Lola and Eleven Eleven Mississippi) to help them translate their vision and spent days pouring over Assia’s recipes and giving Bowman a crash course in Moroccan cuisine. The result is a menu that features traditional homemade specialties true to their North African origins married with the experience required to run a professional kitchen. Entrusting a stranger to carry forth the culinary heritage of their country was a gamble, but it paid off for the Meskines.

Keep reading: Cheryl Baehr's review of Baida.

Photos by Jennifer Silverberg for the Riverfront Times.

Published on December 10, 2013