By Chris Barfield | Feb 22 2013Restaurant , sidi bou said , Tam Tam , Tunisia
Located between the Sidi Bou Said TGM station and Al-Ghafran Mosque, Tam Tam restaurant offers a selection of international and Tunisian culinary favorites in a relaxing, inviting atmosphere. The white-washed terrace with blue shutters is accented by blossoming vines and offers a sunny spot to watch the hustle of Sidi Bou Said traffic. A spacious black and red interior is complemented by Asian-themed decor.
In Tunisia, I use a simple method to gauge whether or not the food at a restaurant will be good. First, I order a coffee and see how long it takes to arrive. If it is still warm, I order something from the menu. I’m always impressed when servers give me a menu that looks like a leather-bound tome and then proceed to tell me they don’t have anything I request. If I find a dish in the first four tries of my culinary scavenger hunt, the restaurant has a chance.
Tam Tam wasn’t like this. Instead, we were presented with a one-page place mat, labeled “Autumn-Winter 2012.” Simple but complete, Tam Tam offers salads, appetizers, sandwiches, pasta, pizza, entrees, and dessert. It has a separate section featuring Tunisian cuisine, and the whole menu rotates seasonally. There is even a kids’ meal, the first I’ve seen in Tunisia.
We started with a round of freshly squeezed orange juice (2.8 dinars), the least expensive drink on the menu and easily some of the best I’ve had – pulpy with no added water. We sampled piping hot Brik (6.6 dinars) with ground beef and tuna, which was standard but good. The Ceasar salad (11.9 dinars) came with mushrooms, but more importantly, the vegetables were fresh and well-prepared. While waiting for the main course, we were given warm bread with very nice Harissa and olive oil, as well as a tangy cream sauce that was a mix between Tzatziki and Ranch dressing.
I ordered fish couscous (19.9 dinars) and the Grilled Fillet with Bleu Cheese (24.5 dinars). I half-jokingly requested my steak rare, and was blown away when it came out with a nice sear and beautiful purple center. It was accompanied by salad and delicate, crispy fries. My friends had similarly positive things to say about the legume fricassee (13.4 dinars) and Parmesan chicken (15.1 dinars).
We opted for coffee over dessert, and unfortunately this is where the service was something of a letdown. Having presented us with a check for the meal already, the service staff lost all interest in our table. After the third try, it became a comic game where we would make a request and the waiter would smile and give a nod of ascension that could only mean one thing – absolutely not. Despite this hiccup, the overall quality of the meal and the sunny, outdoor atmosphere made for a great afternoon, and we left feeling elated. Walking out the door, the whistle of the departing TGM sounded almost like a fairy-tale train traveling through some remote wilderness.
7 Ave. du 7 Novembre, Sidi Bou Said
Hours – Noon – 11:00pm, 7 days a week
For reservations call: 71 72 85 35