The ends of Africa

Sadly, I wasn't able to join many of my girlfriends at Leeds First Friday this weekend. A pity as it was exactly a year ago that I was there. However, we London girls know how to keep ourselves entertained. It was quite cold so I was glad of my favourite Nina Varese wool dress. After a short fact-finding mission to the cosmetics emporia of Neal Street, I met up with Joanne at Souk Medina, a Moroccan restaurant in Short's Gardens just off Seven Dials.

I've never eaten there before but we were delighted with it. We sat in the part with low tables and benches bestrewn with cushions, overhung by maroon ceiling drapes giving the sensation of sitting in a tent. They serve beautiful cocktails - as well as the usual kirs and bellinis they have others I have never encountered before. We chose the mai camel (rum, fruit juice and almonds) and the wonderful Sahara (rum, dates, ginger, lime juice, brown sugar).

We chose the Marakkech menu which was wonderful: mixed meze of beautifully smooth hummus, grilled halloumi cheese, prawns, chicken, lamb and zaalouk (aubergines) with pitta bread, followed by tagines of tender chicken, delicious lamb with prunes and almonds, chickpeas and couscous, with delicate baklava and mint tea to finish. The staff were very welcoming and they jingle as they walk because of the belts festooned with metal that they wear. Truthfully, the low tables and benches are not so comfortable to sit and eat at but that is a minor quibble. The ladies loos are beautiful with their traditional tiles and basins in beaten brass. Not the cheapest dinner I've had, but reasonable.

We decided to go to the cinema and see a random film. Just as we left the bellydancer came in. Oh well, it means we'll just have to go back another time to be entertained. I'm not sure I'll ever get my belly as slim as hers, especially after all that food!

The random film, selected at random (well, OK, it was just about to start), was "Beauty", mainly in Afrikaans with some English. A slow-burning tale of a married man coming to terms with being gay. Not always easy to follow, sexually explicit, and disturbing in a brutal rape scene, without full resolution, it nevertheless did hold the attention. Still, after all that sitting in the medina and in the cinema we agreed our bottoms were rather sore (never mind fears of gay rape) so we were happy to stand outside the Porcupine pub in the night air with a quick drink before plunging into the tube to go home.

A good way to spend a Friday night when you can't make it to the T scene in other cities.

Sue x