The real reason to visit Kasbah, a cozy piece of Morocco in downtown Lafayette, is not the lamb—which is delectable—or the mint tea or the b’stella. It’s the all-encompassing experience: a taste of a different culture, a brief visit to exotic lands and customs in the heart of a Colorado bedroom community.
On entering the restaurant, a hostess directs you to remove your shoes before entering the main dining room, which has been transformed into a Moroccan retreat, complete with low tables, soft poufs for seating and gorgeously embroidered textiles on the walls. Traditional and modern Moroccan music play in the background, setting the mood. Order a pot of hot, sweet mint tea, and a server brings it in a silver pot with delicate glasses for sipping. Guests are given a towel in lieu of a napkin—and because you eat this food entirely with your fingers, it’s a necessary accessory for the night. Wear it draped over your left shoulder as the locals do.
The menu at dinner is a five-course affair. While a lighter, three-course menu is available, I had to wonder if the monumental nature of the menu might be behind the empty seats I noticed on the nights we visited; an a la carte menu in the bar might draw in a crowd unprepared to sit down to a two-plus-hour meal.
The evening starts with a hearty vegetarian lentil soup called harira and served with slices of honey wheat bread. Don’t be shy; just pick up the bowl and drink it down with gusto. Next, diners are presented with an assortment of Moroccan salads: green beans and lentils in a light vinaigrette and sliced carrots in a slightly sweet, slightly spicy red sauce were two of our selections for the night.
A traditional dish called b’stella makes up the third course. It is a large, round pastry of philo dough, filled with Cornish hen, spiced eggs, crushed almonds and cinnamon. Once baked, the dish is served lightly sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon, creating a mix of sweet and savory that is a hallmark of Moroccan cuisine. Dig in—with your fingers, of course—but be careful: It’s hot!
At this point, the main course arrives, which diners select from a wide array of choices on the menu. The lamb, in all its incarnations, is divine, melting in the mouth and full of flavor. The Cornish hen dishes are also excellent, and surprisingly easy to eat with one’s fingers. And while couscous is not the easiest dish to tackle without implements, it’s worth the trouble.
As you dine, belly dancers emerge to entertain with scarves, fire and swords, and their skill is well worth the dollar or two you might tip.
At the end, everyone is encouraged to join in the dancing, which very neatly sums up the experience at Kasbah: you might enter a stranger in a strange land, but by the end of the evening, you’ll be dancing like a local.