Dar Essalam Moroccan Restaurant

The Moroccan Dar Essalam family-run restaurant, whose name means “House of Tranquility,” is located in Wilsonville. The first thing you notice as you walk in the doors is the fresh aroma of delicious food and the authentic Moroccan surroundings. The atmosphere is boisterous and you are welcomed in as if it were entering your own home.

Sitting down, my family and I were poured traditional mint tea. The tea is meant to be a hospitality gesture; it is poured half full so as to not to burn the fingers. There was no alcohol and no water; if you wanted these things to drink you had to order them separately.

Our waiter, Abdellah Elhabassi, was a very joyful person, joking all the time and making my family feel at home. Seeing that we were new to Moroccan cuisine, he decided to take all our menus. “I know what you want,” Elhabassi said.

He left us confused; it was the first time that we had not ordered our own food at a restaurant. Our confused faces quickly turned into delight as we tasted the food.

In what seemed like no time, we were brought out family-style plates that we all shared. All of the dishes ranged from $11-$30. We were brought chicken soup filled with succulent Moroccan spices and bread to finish. Next, we were brought Bakola, which is roasted and marinated spinach topped with sour cream and pine nuts, served with pita bread.

We began to eat with our silverware and our waiter stopped us with a grin on his face. “No, no. You have to do it this way with your fingers. More fun that way,” Elhabassi  said. We then began to eat with our fingers; it was new experience, but it was more fun to dig in like a child.

Each time we finished a dish, our waiter would ask if we wanted a break. “No! Just keep them coming!” I said. And the excellent service kept up with my wishes. Plate after plate came with seemingly no break.

After serving the Bakola, our waiter arrived with a pastry called a Bastilla. The puzzled members of my family looked at each other as we thought, is it dessert already?  We dug into the delicious, puffy pastry and there was meat inside. Surprisingly to us, it tasted good, even with the contrast of sweetness and meat. This appetizer is stuffed with chicken and almonds and is dusted off with a layer of powdered sugar.

Finally the main course arrived. Plates were placed down filled with Lamb Shank, Saffron Hen and Sultan’s Kabob Feast. The lamb shank was spicy, the Saffron Hen was surrounded in apricot sauce, and an assortment of chicken, shrimp, beef and lamb kabobs were served with a side of saffron rice. All of these dishes were accompanied by pita bread that you could use to soak up the leftover sauces.

Finally, when we thought we could eat no more, the dessert arrived. There was a scone filled with chocolate inside and a beautiful bouquet of fruits stuffed inside of a puffy pastry. I can honestly say they were the best desserts I have ever had.

Leaving the building, we felt satisfied and extremely full. We looked back as our waiter gave us a cheeky grin and a wave. Overall, the restaurant received a 10/10 and I highly recommend going. Just make sure you have a big appetite.