The Benevolent King: Chef Ben Poremba’s Moroccan-Inspired Joint in Maplewood
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
While you’re in the neighborhood …
Experience vibrant Japanese cuisine at Robata, from sushi and ramen to tempura and yakitori (skewered meats).
7260 Manchester Road
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
Photography courtesy of Carmen Troesser.