Rabat – Despite the 16,000-kilometer distance between Morocco and Australia, an authentic Australian restaurant has popped in Morocco, the first of its kind in Marrakech.
As an Australian expat living in Morocco, I am frequently asked by curious friends if Australia has a distinctive cuisine, and I always respond that I will take them to Plus 61 in Marrakech so they can see for themselves.
Named Plus 61 after Australia’s telephone country code, the restaurant made instantly feel at home upon walking in. Sunlit and modern, it reminds me of any cafe you would find on the hipster streets of Melbourne.
The cafe is mostly white except for touches of rose gold, consistent with today’s trends. The vibe is relaxed and informal, in line with Aussie style.
Often unbeknownst to those that have not visited Australia themselves, coffee and cafe culture is a huge part of Australian life, and Plus 61 is a perfect representation of that.
Because of this, most Australians are coffee snobs, so I had high hopes when ordered a flat white, Australia’s own brilliant coffee invention that I get deeply homesick for. It exceeded my expectations; I had the best coffee I had had in months. I highly recommend ordering a flat white instead of your usual coffee order to get the full experience.
Plus 61’s lunch menu is quintessentially Australian: Ingredients are as fresh as they can get with the fruit and vegetables sourced from local farmers and bread, pasta, cheese, and yoghurt are made fresh in-house every day. The meals are inspired by various different cultures, reflecting the multiculturalism of Australia. The menu is subject to frequent change, so the meals are always perfectly suited to the season.
Wanting to try as much of that day’s menu as I possibly could, my family and I ordered multiple dishes and put them in the middle of the table to share around.
There was something on the menu to accommodate everyone: My mother, a lover of anything green, ordered the wild green tart while I opted for lamb and rosemary pasta. We also sampled roast cauliflower and the fish of the day. Conversation soon came to stop as we eagerly tried the dishes, resuming only to comment on how delicious the food was—a very good sign.
We were fortunate enough to have dessert brought to us by one of the two co-owners, Cassie, and the chef Andrew, probably as happy to run into fellow Australians as I was. On offer was Lamingtons, an iconic Australian cake encased in chocolate and coconut. I was overjoyed to taste a little piece of home.
Cassie and Andrew were both warm and welcoming in a typically Australian way, and I was eager to hear the story of how Plus 61 came to be.
Cassie, a long-term expat in Morocco, used to sell her own kaftan designs in the Marrakech medina (old city) before taking the plunge into the restaurant business, and it is evident by all the tiny details done just right that she poured her heart and soul into the creation of Plus 61.
She co-owns the restaurant with Sebastian de Gzell, who also co-owns the famed Nomad restaurant in the ochre city. Their chef, Andrew, moved all the way from Australia to provide Plus 61 with the most authentic cuisine possible.
I left that day full to the brim and with a big grin on my face, feeling significantly less homesick. I urge anyone, Australian or Moroccan, to try Plus 61 for a slice of Australian life in the heart of the Gueliz neighborhood in Marrakech.