In Their Shoes

decor1If you are wandering along 5th avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn, looking for a place to dine in, you can’t miss Babouche, a Moroccan restaurant, heartily welcoming you with its wide-opened doors. Even though tables are available outside and the weather is more and more beautiful every day, you should definitely come in and let the fascinating atmosphere of old Morocco captivate you. Imagine yourself being “in their shoes,” as Babouche is actually the name for traditional Moroccan footwear.

Dining in the restaurant is like visiting a home of a wealthy Moroccan about two centuries ago. The first dining room has antique tables and armchairs with comforting pillows that allow you to feel like a king or a queen. Lean on your pillow and glance leisurely through the menu, which looks like an ancient book. The cuisine of the place is French-Moroccan. The staff truly believes that a national dish should be prepared by someone who was born in the country. This is why there is one Moroccan and one French cook in the kitchen, a rare thing in the city invaded by Mexican chefs.

Let’s imagine that you are having a brunch during the weekend. You should start with a bowl of soup, whether it will be a traditional French onion or a Moroccan asparagus. Moroccan food is cooked with different spices, like coriander, cinnamon and it has a distinctive herb flavor. If you are an herb lover, you will definitely enjoy a salad with grilled chicken cooked in Moroccan style with a light vinegar dressing. The portions are not as huge as those in an average American restaurant, so you may allow yourself to try a couple of different dishes before you get full.

Even though it may be too early to drink a glass of wine, please yourself with one. The drink menu will satisfy even the most capricious customers, as it offers you wines from Morocco, Spain, Chile, Italy, Australia, Algeria, Argentina and, of course, France. Some, however, are sold only by a bottle, so don’t forget to bring some company to share it with. You may also choose champagne or sangria. No mixed drinks are available yet, as the place is waiting for the full liquor license. However, as soon as you taste the first sip of refreshing, fruity and not too sweet sangria, your concerns about other liquors vanish.

If you decide to skip the wine, don’t even think about missing dessert. Try a delicious “Pastella Au Lait,” a Moroccan layered pastry with crushed almonds, topped with cultured milk, fresh strawberries and a touch of mint. It feels like the whole thing is melting in your mouth like the first snow of winter. It is soft, moist and less creamy than the  famous Italian tiramisu, – a bright, loud last chord of your memorable experience in Babouche restaurant.

Now that you had brunch, you believe, probably, that you’ve seen everything. You are mistaken, though.

You should come back for dinner and try some of the national Moroccan tagines. Tagine is a clay dish and the food is cooked and served in it. You can see them displayed in different sizes at the bar. If you are not seduced by those, then you might like Monday Night Steak Specials, which is 12 dollars (half off), or Tuesday Seafood Night (only 12.95).

If you are busy on weekdays, then visit Babouche during the weekends. Ballet-dancing on Saturdays and flamenco on Sundays will make your dinner even more special.

Fascinated by the first dining room with indulging pillows, you might not know that Babouche has a lot more to reveal to you. There is another room in the back, with comfortable couches where you may even lay down. If you are considering a private party, have it in the basement, decorated like a bedroom with a hookah and several small tables. Attentive servers will never forget to get down there and make sure that everything is all right.

Try the shoes on: they may suit you well.

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