Can you tell the difference between ordinary Moroccan food and excellent Moroccan food?
For an example of the latter you really should seek out La Kasbah, a fine Moroccan restaurant located at the very heart of Brussels but serving food that would not be out of place in Marrakesh or Rabat.
In recent years, the number of Moroccan restaurants has multiplied in Brussels but, even so, it’s good to come across a place whose reputation for serving genuinely authentic traditional cuisine remains undimmed.
This place, located a few metres from the Bourse, first opened 25 years ago and, if anything, its popularity is stronger than ever.
The reason is simple: it doesn’t rely on any “quick fix” in offering good quality Moroccan food.
For example, the tajines – that great Moroccan dish – is individually cooked, over a flame, in the same ceramic utensil in which it’s served to diners.
This compares with some Moroccan restaurants which are given to cooking tajine “in bulk” (that is, in large quantities) and then re-heating it. The difference is crucial as the “Kasbah way” means that the flavours and taste of this lovely dish are not lost but, rather, retained for you to enjoy in full.
It is a small, but nonetheless important, “secret” of the success that has sustained this restaurant for a quarter of a century.
The tajines here, as you might expect, is among the favourites with customers. Particularly popular are the tajine of kefta and tajine with chicken, lemon and olives, both extremely yummy.
Another best seller, of course, is the couscous which is served in different varieties and a nice choice of accompanying meats.
Those who come here with a particularly huge appetite might be tempted to plump for another impressive dish: the Kasbah Royal consisting of oriental sausage, chicken, lamb stew and lamb kebab (just about all the meats found on the menu!) – a real treat but, beware, one that’s also likely to fill you for the rest of the day.
As well as tajines and couscous, there’s a good choice of grilled dishes available, each served with jacket potato and salad, plus some great Moroccan starters such as “brick” (a kind of rice galette) with either tuna, eggs or oriental sausage. Another recommendation – and another Moroccan tradition – among the starters is chicken pastille (like a samosa).
If you’re unsure what to opt for try the meze, a great combo of different things and served as a starter or mains.
If you happen to be in the area during the day, there’s also a very good value-for-money lunch option, priced a mere €14.90.
Considering the sheer quality of the food, though, the prices of everything here (starters from just €7.90, for example,) are extremely reasonable. There are special formulas for groups and look out also for a great selection of wine, including a very full-bodied, and very tasty, Moroccan wine.
The portions are generous and, if necessary, the friendly and welcoming staff will pack any leftovers for you to take home.
The restaurant was launched by Frederic Nicolay and, while he has since passed on the reigns, his spirit lives on, along with the remarkable collection of multi-coloured, stained glass lanterns dangling from the ceiling – all 120 of them!
Adding to the wonderfully atmospheric ambience are the series of black and white photographs, which adorn the walls, of famous Maghreb personalities.
Nothing is left to chance and each table comes complete with a special candle which serves to add to the cosy surroundings, particularly in the evening.
This bistro-style restaurant is located in arguably the most bustling part of the city and very close to excellent transport connections. Dining here on a Friday or Saturday evening is especially colourful as you will be greeted and entertained by oriental dancers.
There is nothing pretentious here – don’t come expecting crisp napkins or white tablecloths – but its main asset is the thing that matters most when eating out – the food.
On this front, like the “exotic” and very creative surroundings, you will not be disappointed. It’s easy to see why, after all this time, this place remains a “must visit” on this city’s culinary scene.
GOOD TO KNOW:
- La Kasbah
- Antoine Dansaertstraat 20, Brussels
- 02 502 4026