September 5, 2007

We come to Casablanca for the waters


Quoting the Letters of Transit, er, email:

Casablanca Menu Begins
Starting August 1st the diverse delicacies of Moroccan cuisine will be showcased at Coastal Kitchen. Come visit us as the decorations go up and you are transported to the famous romantic hideaway.

So, accompanied by friends who've long lived in Morocco, we drop by. Uh-oh. Decorations, good. Romantic hideway, not so much. Diverse delicacies, no way. Of all the gin joints in the world, we've walked into this one. Rick would be aghast.

Peter Levy and Jeremy Hardy are veterans who've built a respected chain of six neighborhood eateries over the past 20 years. Think 5-Spot (Queen Anne), Endolyne Joe (West Seattle), Hi-Life (Ballard), and so on.

Many's the time we've sat at the counter overlooking Coastal's fast-paced kitchen; many's the special we've enjoyed. Until now.

Appetizers of fried kasseri and salt cod are bland and underwhelming, harira soup without flavor. A so-called tagine of lamb "simmered in a saffron-cinnamon scented broth" tastes of bitter apricots. But where's the conical tagine itself? Isn't the drama of Casablanca worth the investment in a few pieces of ceramics? A giant platter of seafood and chicken (dubbed "Here's looking at you") resembles nothing Moroccans have ever seen or eaten: rare tuna (!), shriveled shrimp, burnt chicken skewers, tasteless couscous. Couscous isn't meant to be boiled in flavorless water, for pity's sake! It's designed to be steamed over aromatic meat and vegetables.

Is this authentic? we ask the waiter. Er, no, he replies. It's apparently meant to give you "an idea" of Morocco. Disney's version of Morocco, maybe, Nothing threatening or even remotely tasty, just make-believe food. Sad to think we'll never really have Casablanca.

Alas, Louis, it's the end of a beautiful friendship. Round up the usual suspects.

UPDATE: This post also ran over on, where it produced a most interesting reaction from the PR trolls.

Coastal Kitchen, 429 15th Ave. E., 206-322-1145 Coastal Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Posted by Ronald Holden at September 5, 2007 12:44 AM

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