Perfect eats on a busy weekend night
217 19th St. NW — Calgary, Alberta
Savory – yes. Stunning decor – absolutely. But if it’s dead – back outta that place as fast as you can!
I went on the basis of one of my best friends telling me it was amazing. The lounging, dark, relaxed vibe was fantastically chill. The waitress was a doll giving us tips on which were the best of the tasty eats and she also clued us in on how to eat with our hands as she doused our palms with warm water from an elaborate silver kettle. Though I really liked the hand washing system and the encouragement to eat with bare hands -some of the food has strong dyes in it and in the light of day our hand looked super gross covered in yellow food stuff.
I loved the idea of the Moroccan Castle – but we went on the wrong night, or at the wrong time. Something was wrong. We showed up at 8pm on a Sunday and we were the only 2 people in the whole joint. Seriously. The hostess told us they were about to close up but she let us come in anyway.
We quickly skimmed the short menu and ordered the B’stilla ($14) an appy certainly big enough for two:
it was sugary, sweet, flakey, savory, the whole deal. B’stilla (or pastilla) is a meat pie traditionally made of squab. At the morrocan castle it was mainly chicken, eggs, and onions, with a combination of sweet and salty flavors including surprisingly delightful shots of cinnamon, ginger, sugar, and almonds. The pie’s crunchy outside is something similar to phyllo but even thinner. This reminded me of the pastry quality influence France has over Morocco. Oh kisses! It was so delicious. I eagerly awaited our next dish all the while trying to keep from drooling.
Next came the lamb couscous with chickpeas and raisins ($21) – which was good overall – but the lamb was a little stringy…as though it had been overcooked. And lastly we got the chicken tajine with almond and prunes ($21). The tajine is a dish named after the heavy clay pot in which it is cooked – we ordered it because the waitress said it was one of her favs. Unfortunately, this was when the realization of our terrible mistake hit home. We had come to dine on the wrong night. When the hostess originally told us they were about to close up – we should have said “good night – we’ll see you another time”. But no – like a couple of idiots we stuck around to dine on food that had been pre-made and sitting around since who knows when. The chicken in the dish was bad. Flat out bad. Dry, chewy, overcooked long ago, and NO DAMN GOOD. I could have easily made this at home on my own without the assistance of a “professional” chef. Plus, the vegetable accompaniment in the dish was overcooked. No, it wasn’t the end of the world – but it sure was disappointing after the original amazingness of the general atmosphere and the tasty goodness of the B’stilla.
Le sigh. It was still sweet-ass to lounge around on the cushions in the darkened restaurant though – it would be an awesome place to have a chill out party.
Anyway – though this review may not seem promising – I do believe that the moroccan castle on a friday or saturday evening at a reasonable dinner time would be a delicious taste sensation.
Arabic meets Indian (with the pastry skills of a frenchmen).
Reservations: Sure, make one.
Parking: Of course! There’s tons everywhere – this is Calgary, ain’t it?
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