There’s a new Moroccan lounge and bar in Central and it’s a treat for all the senses. Once the lift doors opened to Lilya's second-floor location, our eyes met a beautiful wall of colourful babouche slippers. There was so much to take in, we almost forgot to look up and notice the ceiling lined with fanoos, traditional glass lamps. Then the sweet smell of perfumed spices emanating from the bar hit us, and we made our way to one of the long velvet banquettes for the night. Once settled, we took in the beautiful tiled bar, accent walls of silk tassels and Hands of Fatima and Moroccan music by the in-house DJ.
Lilya is located in quite a large space. The main room is filled with the aforementioned velvet banquettes and pouffes and is bathed in a rosy glow. While the overall vibe is dark and atmospheric in the evenings, we were impressed that the individual seats were well lit. This meant we could actually see each other, read the menu and so on while enjoying the transportive atmosphere. In addition to the main room, there’s also a white tiled terrace area that could comfortably fit two groups. With its white stone walls and mosaic tile floors, this would be a prime spot to reside before the sun goes down. Luckily, the windows can be shut and the air conditioner turned on in this area, so it's still great in the summer.
We tried a number of cocktails; most were on the sweeter side and all were beautifully presented. The Medina ($120) was quite quaffable, recommended for those who enjoy the delicate taste of rose syrup.
Another favourite was the Marjorelle ($125), a sweet and citrusy cocktail elevated by a mix of spices including cardamom. This one tasted almost creamy, though the drink was clear underneath the foam.
Our jaws dropped when the fun and whimsical Oriental Fashion ($140) appeared. Our server lifted the glass container, and the fragrant smoking lavender gave way to quite a traditionally presented old-fashioned cocktail. This cocktail itself was well mixed and was a treat for all the senses with the addition of a burning cinnamon stick.
For those who prefer cocktails that are less sweet, give Lilya Dream ($130) a try. This one was refreshing, with aged Ron Zacapa rum as the base plus lemongrass, dates, ginger and turmeric. It had a refreshing, herbal taste.
Because good drinks require good snacks, we ordered a number of sharing items. We loved the cheese briouates ($108), puff pastry triangles that contained a mixture of cow, sheep and goat cheeses as well as deliciously salty olive bits. The chicken, almond and honey briouates ($108) were also delicious, with the honey adding just a touch of sweetness to the savoury treat. Both came accompanied by a small dish of pesto-like sauce.
Being big fans of aubergine, we wanted to try the zaalouk ($68), and it did not disappoint. Mixed with tomato and harissa, this one was spicy! It was delicious but also quite salty, and we wished it had been served with some grilled bread.
The fisherman’s pastilla ($178) is the seafood version of a the famous Moroccan meat pie. Lilya’s luxe version contained lobster and pink royal pageot and was topped with scallops and walnuts. The filling also contained lightly spiced rice noodles. While this didn't blow us away flavour-wise, it was fresh and quite filling.
Our favourite order of the night was the saddle of lamb ($168). A dish of blanched almonds and caramelised onions that had been cooked with saffron, confit lemon and a five-spice blend was brought out. This alone was incredibly fragrant, and the soft and crunchy textures worked well together. The lamb was slow-cooked and tender, and the slightly gamy taste complemented the sweet spiced onions and almonds.
This new Moroccan lounge and bar on Wyndham is beautifully designed, serves up unique (though often sweet) cocktails and bites and is a wonderfully comfortable place to relax and enjoy an evening out. While the prices aren’t cheap, neither are they exorbitant for Central. We think Lilya is priced fairly for the quality of its cocktails and food and a great deal for happy hour, when selected cocktails are buy one, get one free from 6–8 pm on Sunday–Wednesday. They've also just joined Super Mondays, where mains are buy one, get one free on Mondays if you have the card. Shisha is also available.
2/F, 77 Wyndham Street, Central, 2526 2578