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Friday, October 22, 2010

Walima Cafe :: Moroccan Cuisine

Sweet Moroccan

Just east of Danforth's Greektown, the street is riddled  with a variety of late night pubs, cafes, restaurants. One late night, we decided to try Moroccan and after debating between Walima and Marrakech, we settled on the former. We thought it'd be a fun way to celebrate a friend's birthday and two friends' survival of their first portaging experience.

This was my first try of Moroccan cuisine, aside from an awful  Summerlicious dinner at MoRoCo Chocolat (which really doesn't count, in my opinion). So...I perhaps I don't really know what Moroccan food is supposed to be like. The very poor lighting didn't lead to the best pictures, but here we go anyways!

Walima Cafe
Verdict:  Skip. Not horrible, but overall disappointing.
Meal: Dinner
Price: ~$25
Location: 1450 Danforth Avenue

We received a small bowl of olives to enjoy while waiting for our order. We ordered tea, which was minty and very very sweet...forshadowing the meal to come...
Olives and Moroccan Mint Tea

Casablanca Platter
Zaalook (mashed grilled eggplants, tomato, garlic, and cilantro topped with olive oil)
Hummus (mashed chickpeas, sesame, lemon juice topped with paprika and olive oil)
Bakoula (Morrocan spiced cooked spinach with olives and preserved lemon)

The eggplant was nice, but overall the platter wasn't anything special. It came with a basket of toasted pita bread.

Chicken Bastilla ($13.75)
Wrapped in a crispy pastry pie, sweetened almonds, shredded chicken, eggs, onions, cilantro, and sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon
Sweet Chicken Pie?
I wasn't a huge fan of this - the chicken was too sweet for my taste. However, as my first bastilla, I have nothing to compare this with. The powdered sugar on top just pushed this over the top. It was like a meaty dessert pie.

North African Couscous ($14.25)
Shrimp, white fish, calamari, peppers, and garlic stewed in tomato sauce
There was very little seafood, which was quite disappointing.I didn't feel like there was anything special about this sparse dish. Awful value, really. I felt that I could've just dumped a bunch of frozen seafood with canned tomato sauce together and gotten the same result. On the plus side, the texture of the couscous was pleasant and the whitefish was flavourful. There were only a few pieces of calamari.

Lamb Shank Tagine ($13.95)
Sultan's Tagine: Sweetened figs and apricots topped with almonds
This was the only decent dish of the night. The lamb shank was braised, very tender, and fell off the bone. Unfortunately, it was swimming in syrup which brought this dish down a notch. There were figs and apricots in this dish.

The lighting was poor - not just from a picture-taking perspective. It was more appropriate for a lounge-type of restaurant than dinner on the Danforth in my opinion. The service was okay - aside from forgetting to give us menus and being noticeably more attentive to another group (i.e. pouring their tea from a high height instead of just leaving it on their table like ours, checking in on them quite often). However, I did not leave satisfied. Is this what Moroccan food is supposed to be like? I hope not.

Often, a disappointing meal will lead me to do one of two things:
1. Learn how to make it myself (after all, something about the description intrigued me to order it)
2. Find a better version of it elsewhere (i.e. DT Donut Delve, Crepe City Chase, Chocolate Cookie Crusade)

Not sure which option I'll end up taking (both?) but I'm left wanting to try Moroccan one more time before declaring it a fail on my tastebuds.

Walima Cafe
Verdict:  Skip. Not horrible, but overall disappointing.
Meal: Dinner
Price: ~$25
Location: 1450 Danforth Avenue

Walima Cafe on Urbanspoon


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