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Taste of Morocco (Formerly A Taste of Casablanca), Washington Blvd. in Clarendon - Closed


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Where in the area would you say is the best place to find quality Moroccan food, where they pay attention to the food and not the entertainment?

I think everyone knows the answer is not Marrakesh in DC.

Taste of Casablanca in Arlington is better.

As for Belly Dancing, I think that is done simply for the tourist and the uninformed. My wife (who is from Morocco) says belly dancing is not a big thing over there.

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So, this restaurant changed its name from "A Taste of Casablanca" to "Taste of Morocco."

I generally have a razor-sharp memory for restaurants, but I honestly can't remember if I've ever been here before - if I have, it was back in the 1990s. However, other than the prices, it probably hasn't changed much: The menu has a 1997 review from Phyllis Richman prominently displayed on the back page (which, I suppose, is more current than Marrakesh's display of Joe Brown's Review on their website).

The prices on the website aren't current - a Walima ($49.95, listed as $44.95 on their website) is a Moroccan feast for two. After the bread, Progresso-tasting harrira and lentil soups, and a diced-up "Royal Salad," I looked around the restaurant, with chairs and carpeting looking like you're in a Holiday Inn conference room, and thought to myself:

"Oh my God. I've been time-warped back to the 1980s and I'm sitting in an Entertainment-Book restaurant."

I was in a bad mood, with only an overpriced Casa beer ($5.95) to console my cuisine-induced ennui, and was dreading the rest of the meal.

But I perked up after the Chicken Bastilla arrived - a large, freshly baked, crackly phyllo-encrusted pastry of marinated, stewed, chicken which seemed to be all dark meat. The chicken itself should have had a better depth of savory seasoning to stand up to all the powdered sugar on the phyllo, but this dish was a pleasant surprise.

And a Chicken Tagine with olives and preserved lemon was every bit as good, despite having only the breast meat (they had to use it somewhere), and Uncle Ben's-tasting rice on the side; a better foil for this chicken was the Lamb Couscous which came dry, and sopped up the sauce from the Tagine quite nicely. The chicken, the lamb, and the vegetables - which included two types of fresh-cut squash - completed the turn-around of what had originally shaped up to be a disappointing meal.

The Mint Tea at the end had so much honey that it was viscous, and the basket of four little Homemade Cookies seemed like it came straight from a neighborhood bakery.

I love the way the real-estate developer has a poster of these storefronts on their construction site right next door, the storefronts looking almost exactly the way they do now, except with a huge high-rise sitting on top of them. Yeah, right. We'll see how they look in five years.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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My wife and I were looking for someplace different for dinner last week and ended up at Taste of Morocco. The service was poor, and the food was just OK. That’s the best I can say about it. I started with harrira soup, which was fine, but not noteworthy. My wife had the chicken tagine with raisons and almonds—at least according to the menu it had raisons and almonds. She didn’t see or taste any almonds. (But otherwise she liked it.) I had the chicken couscous. It was watery; the couscous in the bottom of the bowl was a soggy mess. I lived in Morocco for two years, and like Moroccan food, but I doubt I’ll ever go back to Taste of Morocco.

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I notice that there haven't been a lot of posts here regarding Taste of Morocco lately. I went last night to take my wife out for her birthday dinner. I ended up wishing I'd gone to Wendy's.

I've been going to Taste of Morocco from time to time for years. Initially, it reminded me of dinners I've had in Tangier years ago when I spent some time in the Kingdom, and I enjoyed the familiar rich flavors and spices that danced on your tongue. The Bisteeya - we shared a small one for our appetizer - was once a delight of puff pastry and richness. Now the puff pastry remains, but the seafood version tastes more like they used canned tuna- you know the white tuna that has no flavor at all.

I had the lamb tagine with almonds and raisins for my main course. My wife had the chicken couscous. My lamb tagine was a braised lamb shank with some raisins and slivered almonds tossed in, but not stewed with the lamb. The dish was completely devoid of any unseasoning. Not only was there no salt or pepper, there was no evidence of cadamom, cumin, cinnamon, timeric or cloves or any of the other spices that make Moroccan food so memorable. It did, however, have vast quantities of fat - so much that by the time I trimmed the shank, there was more fat than meat. By the time I removed the bone, there was very little left that was edible.

The chicken couscous consisted of a couple of chunks of boneless skinless chicken breast, one random and detached chicken bone, some carrots, potatoes, onion and squash over couscous. Like the tagine, it was completely unseasoned. My wife picked at her plate, but ate little. We took the remainder home where I simmered it over low heat and added the spices required to make it into a proper Moroccan dish. I reheated the very dry couscous with some chicken stock left over from when I made chicken stew a few days ago. I used the rest of the chicken stock to simmer the chicken and veg.

The only saving grace is the warm bread served with oil cured olives which brought back some memories of North Africa.

Once this was a wonderful place. Now it's sunk so far that I have no plans to go back. It's sad. I used to love this place.

Note that there's been a Groupon out for Taste of Morocco. It's not worth buying. If you have one, get the chicken bisteeya.

Wayne Rash

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Looks like this place has finally closed.  Lights have been off for a couple of weeks and there's a sign on the door from a locksmith.  Was never busy, surprised it lasted as long as it did.  

Can there be any doubt that *all* of these storefronts will eventually close?

Remember when the developer (who is building a massive structure behind them) said they would keep the original storefronts (scroll up to post #2 on this thread)? Who knows, maybe they will, but I don't think it's an aesthetically pleasing idea. I suspect the storefronts will change, and the tenants will change - at least they didn't boot them out right away.

Interestingly, the address of Taste of Morocco is 3211 Washington Blvd., and the address of Northside Social is 3211 Wilson Blvd. - made me do a double-take.

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Can there be any doubt that *all* of these storefronts will eventually close?

Not sure but right next door is O'Sullivans, which recently underwent a rather dramatic expansion, essentially doubling the space.   They took the space from Sam's Corner, a relic of a sandwich shop that never appeared to be open.  Anyway, O'Sullivans seems to be doing well with their expansion, attracting good crowds.  Certainly not a place to seek out for food but seems like a well-run and fun Irish bar.  I bet they stick around.

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Anyway, O'Sullivans seems to be doing well with their expansion, attracting good crowds.

For them, good. Otherwise, I'd say "large".

I used to love O'Sullivan's, but I haven't been able to visit there since they expanded. It's always just too way crowded. (And don't get me wrong - I loved it before, and I'm happy to see them packed and doing well! But it's no longer the place to go for a quiet beer or 8.)

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