You may need a moment to catch your breath after gazing upon Mourad Lahlou's mega-glam new Mourad, which debuted last night in the Financial District. Housed right next door to Trou Normand in the historic Pacific Telephone building, the second project from the Michelin-starred chef of Aziza also makes pretty amazing use of those high ceilings, with elements inspired by a trip that Lahlou and designer Olle Lundberg took to his native Morocco.
Lahlou and Beard-nominated rising star Chris Kajioka are behind the eclectic menu, which, like Aziza, uses Moroccan flavors as a jumping-off point for fine dining. Diners can order a la carte dishes from the dinner menu like salmon with fennel, Marcona almonds, and zhug, a Middle Eastern hot sauce; spatchcocked chicken brined in green olives and preserved lemon; and brown butter couscous. Alternatively, there's a $150 tasting menu, featuring 10 courses and an optional $75 wine pairing from master sommelier Alan Murray (most recently of Masa's). You can also order your wine a la carte (here's the list)—it'll arrive straight from a massive glass wine cage suspended over the bar. And of course, much-lauded Aziza pastry chef Melissa Chou is once again turning out exquisite desserts. All of this comes at a serious price: appetizers mostly run in the $18-20 range, and every non-vegetarian entree is north of $33.
Though its dining room numbers only 60 seats, Mourad is a massive space, with a sizable bar and lounge, multiple private dining rooms, and a patio that seat a whopping 258, all told. The bar area has its own reduced version of the menu, with a quartet of cocktails as well as draft beer and wine by the glass. For now, the restaurant is open daily from 5:30-10 pm, with plans to add weekday lunch service in the near future. Also on the horizon for Lahlou: a move to Nick Kokonas' ticketing system for Mourad's tasting menu, a possible Hawaii project with Kajioka, and a forthcoming interior refresh at Aziza, where new chef de cuisine Orlando Pagan is heading up the kitchen.