Restaurant Review: The Casbah

>> Friday, December 21, 2012

It’s the holidays where most people are either rushing to get their last minute Christmas shopping done and preparing for the festivities or they’re trying to get out of anything Christmas related and getting out of the country as soon as possible. But if you find that you’re stuck in between the two, where you don’t want to miss out on all the Christmas celebrations but at the same time looking for a little oasis in all the chaos, I highly recommend checking out The Casbah, where you will be transported right before your eyes.

Atmosphere: Like stepping in to true riad which instantly transports you to Morocco with the authentic décor and fragrant smells coming from the kitchen creating an extremely intimate and romantic setting.

Price Range: Mid – High $10s, set dinners available $30+

Food and Wine: After seeing the space and looking at the menu, I knew we wanted the full Moroccan experience. Why not go straight for the 5 course meal? I’m glad we did. Starting off with a warm and aromatic Harirra Soup with chickpeas and lentils simmered together in fragrant saffron and ginger infused tomato broth. A great way to start the evening, by warming our tummies!

Next up was the Khoudra Salad consisting of a sample of different traditional Moroccan salads – Carrot, Corn and Beets – the flavours brought me back at the Jemma el-Fnaa (city square) in Marrakech. Each salad had its own distinct flavour, the carrot being my favourite due to all the cinnamony goodness in the dressing. Don’t get me wrong, they were all very good and refreshing. The corn was sweet and had a bit of a zest to it, but wasn’t hot in any way and the beets were tangy.

We each got a choice of appetizers and decided on the Crevette and Khoubiza. The crevette is chermoula marinated baby shrimp consisting of fresh pureed tomatoes, herbs and garlic. Wrapped in a Phyllo pastry, it was crispy and well seasoned. The pastry wasn’t overly oily which was nice. The khoubiza reminded me of Greek spanikopita, essentially spinach, bell peppers, fresh herbs and feta cheese wrapped in Phyllo. Again, it was crispy and light. There seemed to be less feta cheese then spanikopita and I preferred that.

For our entrees, I had the Chicken Jilbana Tajine, tender slices of chicken were cooked in the tajine with aromatic sweet green peas, artichoke hearts, potatoes topped with preserved lemon and olives. The chicken was moist and juicy and I really enjoyed the artichoke hearts which were infused with the flavour of the fragrant spices. The Kefta Tajine which had the Moroccan meatballs stewed in tomatoes, vegetables, chick peas and olives, had a real punch of flavour. The meatballs were succulent especially when eaten with the lovely sauce. Both tajines were a good serving size so we weren’t overly stuffed at this point and still had room for dessert.

To wrap up the meal we were served Pistachio Baklava with ice cream and drizzled chocolate. It was the perfect end to a decadent meal. I love any dessert that includes ice cream and you really can’t go wrong with baklava in my books.

Our meal came with 2 glasses of a medium bodied house wine, but it’s always hard to stop after just one glass (maybe one day…maybe). So we also ordered a bottle of the Louis Latour Pinot Noir to accompany our meal, the house wine wasn't bad but we wanted something a bit more bold.  The pinot had hints of berry notes with a fuller bodied finished. The wine definitely opened up a bit more as we let it aerate, so I’d highly recommend serving it decanted.

My Picks: Crevette, Kefta Tajine

Overall: Right when I walked in to the Casbah, it was like I was back in Marrakech Morocco again. In fact, I thought the space was even more beautifully designed then certain restaurants we visited in Morocco itself. So needless to say, I wasn’t surprised that the food was of the same quality. The owners take great pride in putting their passion in to their cooking and presentation, so you can definitely can see it as well as taste it.
The Casbah
720 11 Ave SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 265-9800

The Casbah on Urbanspoon


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