Casablanca offers a hint of Morocco

JOSEPH ROMANOS
Last updated 11:09 18/02/2013

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Food & Dining

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REVIEW: Morocco seems to have settled into a tiny corner of Cambridge Tce.

Casablanca, offering Moroccan food, has occupied 18 Cambridge Tce, a few doors south of Courtenay Place, for five years.

Previously the site housed Medina, another restaurant offering Moroccan fare.

You have to go back to 2004, when Italian restaurant Da Piero occupied the tiny space, to get away from Morocco.

We visited Casablanca on a Friday evening.

The place had a head start for me because Casablanca (Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid et al) is my favourite movie.

I expected to see a poster of Bogie on the wall when I walked in.

It may have been there and I missed it, because the walls of the restaurant are incredibly busy and multi-coloured with all manner of Middle-Eastern ornaments, posters and mirrors.

Diners receive a pleasant surprise at Casablanca when they are given a complimentary starter, and not just a few olives, either.

It's a substantial mini-meal of hummus, bread and tabouli. Most acceptable.

The entrees offered plenty of variety, from tortilla omelette ($12) to loadisa - lentils and bread ($7).

The mains were divided into brochettes (kebabs) and tagines.

I went for a lamb skewer ($17), plus some potato salad ($7). The lamb wasn't the biggest of helpings, but was delicious, and the potato salad was great.

Across the table, the orders went out for tagines, chicken ($22.50) and the king tagine ($24).

The meals were a very good size and sizzled with taste, though there was a suggestion the meat might have been a little overcooked.

One point: It was obvious the meals had not been prepared in the attractive tagine dishes, which were evidently for presentation only.

Perhaps that was simply a more practical way of preparing the meal.

It certainly didn't interfere with the flavour.

Khalid and Nourddine Fakir run a busy and popular restaurant that seats about 60.

Moroccan music plays in the background and adds to the atmosphere without being intrusive.

There's a certain class to the restaurant - linen tablecloths, for example - but it's comfortable and offers friendly, quick service.

I got the impression that it has a regular clientele of satisfied customers.

The wine list is small, but it's worth trying a Moroccan specialty.

Casablanca is fully licensed.

It is open every day for dinners.

Our three meals plus a couple of drinks cost $114, which we judged to be good value.

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- The Wellingtonian

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