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Casablanca

Location: Mill Lane, Cardiff

We wandered over to a small Mediterranean/Moroccan/Lebanese restaurant called Casablanca for dinner on Sunday, thanks to the company the recommendation of cwjat. The walls were thronged with culinary knick knacks, although the tables were elegantly simple wood. Paper napkins and reasonable prices, however, showed the limits of the place's pretensions.

A waiter with an irregular grasp of English brought us menus, and therein lay the only problems we had with the evening, for C. and I both tried ordering several different dishes that they didn't have in stock. In some cases, they were only out because of a lack of deliveries around the holidays; in other cases, they stopped carrying the dish months ago. This is a real problem with a substantial but changing menu, and a highly inconvenient one for restaurant patrons. I really wish restaurants would at least cross off menu items which are no longer stocked, even if it does make a nicely designed menu look sloppy.

Everything after the menu incident was smooth sailing. I started with a sumptuously rich vegetable soup-of-the-day, full of flavorful intensity, if served with rather squashed slices of baguette. cwjat began with a tasty babaganoush, while C. had well-seasoned meatballs in a lackluster tomato sauce to start. He continued on to a respectable, if largely unmemorable, lamb dish, while our local friend ate refreshingly minty meatballs for her main. I had the Chicken Casablanca, softly cooked chicken in a richly buttery sauce, although only served with just barely undercooked rice. It really did need the vegetable or salad side dishes with which the other two mains arrived.

The desserts were wonderful enough to inspire a t.v. series, at least in our collective imaginations. The series would be a comparative tour of London bakeries, among other food vendors. The desserts were the house selection of Mediterranean sweets, a delightful combination of rosewater ice cream with pistachios, and five philo dough, honey, and ground nut confections, divided into conveniently small portions. We loitered over the sweets into the evening, postponing their finish.