In Marrakech, Le Comptoir is a legend, but not necessarily about cooking. The Franco-Moroccan dishes are prepared with some panache and seldom miss, but even more unforgettable are the environment and the spectacle. In a big Art Deco villa, it’s a blend of kitchen, bar and boutique theme. For a pre-dinner cocktail, go directly to the upstairs bar and you’ll appreciate what the buzz is about and why it has a prestige in this town. Le Comptoir draws some of the most attractive young people in the region and there are several relationships floundering here. The big, plush-red dining room downstairs is more stage-set than a pub. The menu is a combination of influences from French, Morocco and Asia, but there is a couscous and a magret de canard as well as ginger, soy and sesame beef. When lithe belly dancers descend the wide staircase to cavort around – and, if you are fortunate, on – the tables, minds begin to drift from the food to the floor around 9.30pm. The place begins to hum, up and down, until late at night, at which stage the live band at the nearby Palais Jad Mahal will be fighting for your attention.
Le Comptoir, Avenue Echouhada, Hivernage, Marrakech (00 212 2443 7702; www.comptoirmarrakech.com)