Fez is a sultry den of Middle Eastern delights on Miami Beach's Espanola Way

The who: Chef Faycal Bettioui strikes out on his own with Fez, a sultry den of Middle Eastern delights. The Morocco-born chef has cooked at upscale spots around town, most recently Dore South Beach.

The room: What used to be the Miami Beach Cinematheque is now a cozy Marrakech-inspired dining room with cushions, lanterns, tableware and striking double doors shipped from Morocco. Casablanca and other mood-setting films are projected on the wall behind the bar.

The dishes: Modern Moroccan, with upscale takes on tagines, grilled meats and couscous. Prices are reasonable with starters $11-$16 and mains $17-$29. Begin with the Mediterranean trio of chickpea spread, roasted red pepper spread and charred eggplant spread served with flatbread. Starters include grilled octopus with black garlic ink, saffron aioli and shaved fennel and a traditional bastilla pastry filled with cinnamon-spiced chicken. Lamb figures prominently on the menu. There’s lamb belly with celery root purée, pomegranate glaze and onion jam and lamb filet with asparagus, sunchoke puree, fondant potato and lamb jus. Tagines and couscous are delivered in the traditional conical-shaped pot and can be had with chicken, lamb or seafood. 

The bottom line: This trendy date spot channels Marrakech with upscale takes on Moroccan classics.