The Benevolent King: Chef Ben Poremba’s Moroccan-Inspired Joint in Maplewood

 In Food, Guide

It’s almost guaranteed that you will expand your culinary horizons—and perhaps even learn a bit of history—while dining at The Benevolent King. Chef and proprietor Ben Poremba named the restaurant after Sultan Muhammad V of Morocco, who resisted efforts to impose anti-Jewish laws and deport the country’s Jewish population during World War II. It’s not necessary to know this tidbit, but helps explain a few things, like the welcoming ambiance and the menu spotlight on Rachel’s cookies (from Poremba’s mother, who is Moroccan; his father survived the Holocaust).

Neighborhood residents frequently stop by the front patio for a snack such as briouat (crispy tubes of brik stuffed with chicken or sardines) or a bowl of jben (fresh farmer’s cheese with herbs). They may pair it with wine, but more likely they’ll choose one of the intricately crafted cocktails. For a heartier appetite, look to the salatim (small plates of salad, vegetables and spreads, usually served cold). At 3 for $20 or 5 for $30, these are worth investing in as a shareable meal.

The dinner menu offers seafood, chicken and lamb in enticing combinations of sauces and vegetables. Because Poremba is a veteran on the local restaurant scene, he’s trusted regardless of how unusual an ingredient or combination might sound. His eateries are also popular, so reservations are a good idea.

7268 Manchester Road

The Benevolent King: Chef Ben Poremba's Moroccan-Inspired Joint in Maplewood

While you’re in the neighborhood …

Robata Maplewood
Experience vibrant Japanese cuisine at Robata, from sushi and ramen to tempura and yakitori (skewered meats).

7260 Manchester Road

Maya Café and The Focal Point
There’s beautiful synergy between the Latin-influenced café and the folk music listening room next door.

2726 & 2720 Sutton Blvd.
314.781.4774 & 314.328.4810

Boogaloo‘s fun Caribbean vibe infuses the food, the drinks and even the seating at the bar.

7344 Manchester Road

This story originally appeared in Guided: Maplewood, available online and at these locations now.

Photography courtesy of Carmen Troesser.

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