Our first installment in our Dinner Party activity was to try out Casbah, a Moroccan restaurant here in Calgary. I think the greatest part our event was that no one had been to this establishment before. All in all, it was great food with great friends and a success.
My food blogging work is not going so well for me lately as I keep forgetting to take any pictures. However, I can assure you that the ambiance of Casbah seemed as close to Moroccan style as one could get in downtown Calgary, in a basement restaurant to boot. There were red cushions, red curtains, and many red decorations adoring the walls.
Our party had a nice alcove all to ourselves, so we could be as loud and exuberant as we liked. One thing I wasn't sure how to take upon arrival was that I was told they had only set up for about 8 people because "from our experience 99% of the time the whole party of 15 goes down to 7 or 8, maybe 10". I suppose, on the one hand, it's possible, but it felt lazy on the establishment's part, especially because it seemed like little thought had been put into how we were going to fit around the small tables, and no utensils, glassware or dishes had been set out on any of the tables. Yes, of the 15 reserved for, 13 showed up, but I think that may have been too presumptuous on their part. It felt a little like 3 people were disjointed from the gathering, off in one corner together, as it turns out.
Regardless, the staff were friendly and, despite what appeared to be much confusion and disorientation on our part over what we ordered, they managed to get most of the order correct the first time. If they missed something, they were quick to correct the error, too. For a large party, I understand it's tough to get it all straight, so I have to give the service at Casbah a 4.5/5 stars for their great work last night.
The food was fantastic. We could have ordered couscous and tagines from the menu, but Bryan opted (much to my persuasion) for the Moroccan Feast and I the Casbah Feast. His stared with salad and soup (which I shared) and we both were given a choice in appetizer and entree. His spicy sausage appetizer was superb, as he thoroughly enjoyed it. For his entree, he tried a couscous with the mixed meat platter on top. Aside from questioning the root vegetables within the dish, Bryan said his meal was very good.
I opted for a vegetarian feast. My appetizer was phylo-wrapped spinach and feta that came with a flavourful dipping sauce. I very much enjoyed it, as it was cheesy goodness in a small package. The entree I chose was a root vegetable tagine, which came in a tasty sauce with chickpeas. I love tagines, and was impressed by the array of vegetables, the skill with which they were cooked, and the flavours of the sauce. I ate the entire dish, even though I was stuffed!
We were all then given a small pasty (baklava-like) with ice cream for dessert. And the mint tea after the meal was absolutely wonderful. Overall, I was very impressed with the meal. My only complaint comes probably from past experiences - other Moroccan restaurants give you the lowdown on how Moroccans are expected to eat with their right hand and dishes are served with bread only, no utensils. Unfortunately, Casbah did not provide the bread or the explanation on eating with your right hand. I am not sure if this was because of our crowd, or because they don't offer that information. I did notice that bread is extra on the menu, which is unfortunate. It seems like, for a truly authentic ethnic experience, all the required food items should be included. I believe this to be true of Indian meals as well, but naan and roti are always extra.
But, again, the food was wonderful and I would recommend this Moroccan restaurant to anyone looking for a tasty meal and a relaxing evening.