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Casablanca Restaurant – Philadelphia, PA

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Here’s looking at you, kid.

Casblanca Restaurant – Philadelphia, PA, 19151
7557 Haverford Road
Meal: Dinner (for two) / Weekend / 8pm
Price: $85 (Includes tips, excludes coupons)
Website: CasablancaRestaurants.Com

We’re happy to have our first Moroccan restaurant on Chewru, and what better way to celebrate our refreshed website than with a little prix fixe action! If you’ve never had Moroccan, it’s pretty safe to try. You’ll run into chicken, beef (or lamb), lots of couscous, pita bread, and some fruit here and there. All good stuff. Years ago, Autumn and I went to the Casablanca location in Delaware and had a great time. When we found out that there was one in Philadelphia, we made it a date night and headed over.

Perhaps this saps the romance a bit, but I was initially concerned about how/where we were going to park. Thankfully, Casablanca is on the outskirts of the city in a strip mall, so we didn’t have any issues there. Once you get inside, you’ll forget about all about the strip mall and appreciate the full Moroccan atmosphere. There’s a small bar near the entrance (for the staff only) and the rest is seating. Obviously, everyone is in traditional Moroccan garb, and you’ll like the wall and ceiling decorations. As you might expect, there aren’t any chairs; you’ll be sitting on a low couch with a full-sized towel over your lap as your napkin. The table is low as well, and I discovered I had to do a fair amount of leaning to eat. No biggie. You’ll get to grab some pita bread for your upcoming courses, but you don’t need to hoard it; they’ll bring you as much as you want throughout the meal.

I ordered a couple of beers and Autumn got her usual rum and diet coke. She thought the mixed drinks were really potent, which is always a good thing. The drinks altogether set us back about $22, with the mixed drinks probably on the pricey side and the beers more or less average (they didn’t break it down). Although the website suggests you can order ala carte, we were immediately launched into our first course of the prix fixe menu after verifying that we weren’t vegetarians. The per person cost of the 7-course meal is $27, which we think is quite fair considering that you’re going to leave absolutely stuffed. In addition to the food, you also get the added entertainment of a belly dancer on the weekends. They’ve got a few of them they rotate through, but we had Ewelina, a polish belly dancer. She was super fun, very talented, and had a good personality about her that didn’t seem to irritate Autumn when I was stuffing dollars into her skirt. Always a plus!

The website lists all the courses and a good description, so we won’t go into great deal about what they are. We’ll comment on each of them, though:

First Course (Moroccan Salad): Very good. I really liked the cucumber salad and the hummus was excellent.

Second Course (B’Stilla): A tough one to eat with your hands, so they offer you forks if you want it. So good.. I wish I had it everyday! =)

Third Course (Chicken or Rabbit): We got the chicken. It really does slide right off the bone, but it was kind of hard to see in the dim lighting. You’ll probably end up wasting a little trying to differentiate between a piece of fatty skin and a the real flesh. Otherwise, it’s excellent. Extremely tender.

Fourth Course (Beef or Lamb Shishkebab): We got the beef. It was on the dry side and a little tough.

Fifth Course (Couscous with Vegetables): Very good stuff, especially if you already like couscous. If you have any stomach left for the pita bread, try it with this.

Sixth Course (Basket of Fresh Fruit): It’s almost impossible to tackle anything other than the grapes. You get two huge oranges and two apples with them. It’s okay to ask to take them home; we saw so many people just leave a full or near-full basket on the table. I enjoyed them the next day!

Seventh Course (Baklava and Mint Tea): If you haven’t had baklava, you’ll love it. Unfortunately, you only get a little chunk of it (a small brownie size) and it didn’t seem as amazing as I remembered it from the Delaware location. The tea is excellent, though, and works to expand your stomach to ease the pain you’re in by this point.

Portion sizes are generally excellent for everything except the baklava which I mentioned. If, like me, your goal is to be FULL(!) when you’re done eating, I promise this place will not disappoint you. The service was very pleasant throughout, although the restaurant builds-in an 18% gratuity. Most of the time, Autumn and I were smiling, laughing, rocking it with the belly dancer, or going ‘mmmmm’ to something we were eating, so overall we were very pleased with the experience. Even with a $25 restaurant.com certificate, we still spent a decent amount of dough. As such, it’s too expensive to go here more than a few times a year.

Pros:

– Easy and available parking
– 7-Course menu won’t leave you the least bit hungry
– Great belly dancer
– Pleasant service
– Mostly excellent entrees

Cons:

– With drinks and no coupon, it can go from moderately priced to expensive in a hurry
– Built-in gratuity screws up calculation of extra tips, probably hurts waiter income too

Guru’s Score: 4.1 Chews
Autumn’s Score: 4.8 Chews
Combined Score: 4.45 Chews
★★★★½
Subjective rating: Fun!
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