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by Local Secrets
New York, New York
March 18, 2008
August 17, 2002
The aura of mystery begins with the location; the spot is tucked away in an alley (Leithgow) off of South St. between 4th & 5th Ave. When you see the huge, ornate, wooden doors, you knock with a brass door knocker and are welcomed inside. Instantly you will feel transported outside of Philly. The strains of Moroccan music,the beaded room dividers,the smells of saffron, cinnamon and other spices send a signal to your brain that something unusual is about to happen. You are seated on couches (very comfy and romantic) with lots of pillows in front of a rather small round table. Your waiter (looking a great deal like a genie out of a bottle) sits on a little hammock in front of you and recites the menu choices. He explains that you will be eating, for the most part, without utensils and how you can accomplish this task. Next,a Turkish towel is draped in your lap (like a huge napkin-I liked this!). A large pitcher with long neck is brought around so you may cleanse your hands before the meal. The first course is a selection of salads with carrots, eggplant, lentils and other ingredients mixed with unusual spices. Spicey but not hot. The salads are served in small bowls and you use pieces of pita bread (baked fresh) to scoop it up and into your mouth. Fun.
The next course "pastilla" is one of my favorites but hard to describe. It is a large round pastry of phyllo filled with chicken, raisins, spices (cinnamon) then covered, baked and sprinkled with powdered sugar. It is yummy and you eat it with your hands. This is followed by a choice of a chicken or rabbit dish and then a course of couscous (a small rice-like grain) steamed with a delicious assortment of vegetables and spices. For this we were issued a spoon, which came in handy. After that came mint tea, a selection of Moroccan pastries (baklava and others) followed by some fresh fruit. The meal is served very leisurely and is a great conversation starter or romantic spot for a first date. Live belly dancers are available by request but must be reserved ahead of time.
The whole atmosphere is designed for your dining pleasure and it succeeds in this department quite well.
From journal The Philadelphia Story- new entries 2004