Every year, Chip does me the kindness of taking a family photo. Last year, I didn't have any great location ideas, so he just took photos at lunch, which happened to be at the Beauty Shop. This year, I chose Casablanca.
Since opening in Midtown over the summer (?) I'd been a couple of times for lunch, and then actually ended up there on Christmas with my "Runnin Buddy." I'd been sickly, so their famous hot tea made with Wolf River honey really hit the spot. I could hardly wait to get back.
I informed the monkeys (Satchel, 14, and Jiro, 12) of where we were going separately. Jiro's response: "Mexican? I hate Mexican." (WHO HATES MEXICAN FOOD?!) I told him it was Middle Eastern and he said, "Ok."
When I told Satchel, he also said (disappointedly), "Mexican?"
Seeing as he is super Jew, I played to my audience. "It's the food of your people," I replied. Then he actually looked excited.
"But wait, what do my people eat?" he asked.
"You can read the menu," I replied.
Casablanca is right across from the Lamplighter, and has a lovely patio. Actually two patios. But it was too cold to sit on either. We went inside and had our choice of seats. I somehow almost always end up in the booth in the very back room, which is a great spot to take in the whole place. The waiter gave us menus and took our drink orders. Before I knew it, I had a lovely hot cup of tea.
I'm not much of a tea drinker. The only time I regularly drank it was when I lived in Cameroon as a Peace Corps volunteer. Anyways, the tea at Casablanca reminds me of the tea we had in my village, so I just love it. It's sweet, but not too sweet, and you can drink a whole lot of it without feeling jacked up. Both monkeys wanted a taste, but not their own cups.
The monkeys had a little trouble making up their minds, and I tried to help them, but in the end, they were on their own. Satchel got a chicken schwarma sandwich and Jiro got the super sandwich which has chicken, lamb & beef. Chip also got the super sandwich. I went with the Greek salad and a falafel and hummus platter.
Let's start with the falafel and hummus. SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO GOOD. I explained to Satchel that in Israel there is (or was in 1992 when I briefly lived there) a falafel stand on every corner. In my experience, the best falafel is green inside -- like the ones at Casablanca. I also told him that everyone makes hummus and that it is basically the one food that is beloved throughout the Middle East.
"I hate hummus," he said. But he was intrigued by the falafel. "That's falafel?" he asked. "I always thought it was meat." He tried half a ball, but didn't seem impressed. Jiro would try neither. Losers.
The Greek salad is also lovely, though the person in the kitchen that day went a tiny bit crazy with the dressing. I love the addition of banana peppers and the olives are yummy kalamatas (with pits).
Satchel inspected his sandwich and immediately started in on the fact that it was full up with lettuce and tomatoes. "Take them off," I said.
Then I basically had the same exact conversation with Jiro when he got his sandwich.
Here's Chip's un-defiled super sandwich.
The only sad thing about my lunch was that I didn't have anything to put their amazing hot sauce on...until Jiro gave me the rest of his sandwich. Score!
While we ate, Satchel said, "Why isn't Casablanca a Mexican name? It's 'white house' in Spanish." So I tried to explain where Casablanca was on the map and he was semi-satisfied. I also tried to get him to try some of Jiro's sandwich, but he said, "I refuse to try lamb." What's up with this kid? Obviously I have given in to his neverending desire to eat chicken wings too often. He used to be more adventurous.
Jiro asked if we could get dessert and I said sure. He ordered a "fluffy mousse." While we waited, he and Satchel had a short-lived staring contest.
Thankfully the mousse came right out.
It was yummy-ish. Jiro thought it tasted like icing. And then the sugar went right to his brain and he started doing this. (Next time, no dessert!)
I asked for the check, and Satchel updated Snapchat. Our total was $50 plus tip.
Then as we were leaving, the table next to us got their food and Jiro gave me a LOOK. "They have French fries here??" he said incredulously. Next time, French fries for everyone. Unless I go without the monkeys. Then everyone can get whatever they want. Ha!
All photos by Chip Chockley (even though they are on my Flickr page). Thanks, Chip!