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Boston Area

Baraka Cafe - review

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Restaurants & Bars

Baraka Cafe - review

jacinthe | Mar 13, 2005 08:41 AM

“Hi, what’s the waiting time for two tonight?”
“Nothing. It is too cold outside, nobody is going out to eat.”

Well I, for one, was happy that I wasn’t going to have to wait to eat, as my friend and I were starving last Thursday night and wanted food, now. We were going to go to one of the many Brasilian/Portuguese places in Inman (ahh, O Cantinho, or perhaps somewhere else if I could bear to be parted from O Cantinho), but then I remembered that I’d always wanted to try Baraka Café, and really, trying new food is good. Plus, it was walking distance from my place – though we opted to drive, being that it was freezing outside. I will be so happy when it gets warm again.

Indeed, when we got there, there was ample seating. I was greeted with, “Oh, you were the girl who called,” and we were told to sit where we pleased. Menus were brought out, and my friend ordered a cup of the mint tea whereas I went with the lemonade – I’d been reading about it on this board, and I do love lemonade. The mint tea came with some nuts, and I got a nice tall glass of good and sour lemonade, sprinkled with some spices that added a very nice touch.

But what to order? The Bastilla can only be ordered if you give them 36 hours notice – so that had to be reserved for another trip. I was very tempted by the couscous, but we eventually decided on ordering nearly everything off the appetizer menu (I can’t remember the last time I had a proper entrée, since appetizers are always much more interesting to me). The hostess/perhaps she was one of the chefs? (she was in and out of the kitchen, but as I wasn’t facing the kitchen I couldn’t see if she was helping to cook) – ah, the lady who took our order made my friend attempt to pronounce the real names of the food, which was very amusing. And so we got (thankfully, they have a menu online – and all the appetizers were served with tons of the flat berber bread, which was so very good, especially when it came hot):

*Teklia (marinated diced green olives in harissa salsa, diced vegetables, mint, parsley, & cilantro) – I don’t normally like olives, but I did like this. I liked the spicy touch that the harissa gave.
*Bedenjal Mechoui (smokey eggplant with roasted peppers, garlic, flat parsley, olive oil and house vinegar topped with labna) – I normally don’t like eggplants either (hrm, I didn’t realize that I was this picky), but this dish was great and was one of my favourites of the night. A slice of the bread, some eggplant, and a small piece of the cheese (labna) and I was very happy.
*Jbinet with Berber Karmous (plate of Mediterranean cheeses with a marinated Berber compote) – I have no idea what the three different cheeses were. One was very salty and hard and almost feta-like, another was very soft and a touch sour, and one was in between and that was the one I liked the most (I feel like Goldilocks).
*cup of lentil soup – it was a pureed velouté of lentils and vegetables, slightly spicy – not really what I was expecting, but it did taste good.
*Karentika (savory chickpea custard with harissa tapenade) – Ah, this was our favourite dish of the night. It was reminiscent of polenta, all creamy and soft and just positively delicious. It’s really too bad we were starting to approach satiety by this point in the night, although we did manage to polish it off because we couldn’t bear to leave a bite uneaten
*Zaatar coca (Bedouin galette of sage, thyme, sesame seeds, lemon juice, caramelized onions on hand-stretched grilled Berber bread) – this was one of our least favourite, as somehow the flavours and textures just didn’t work. I’m not precisely sure how it was made, but it was as though a thick layer of dried herbs and sesame seed were spread atop the round bread, with the onions atop. I think that in the end, the herbs were a little much for me, and that was what made the dish less favoured than the rest that night.
*Lantchouba coca (black olive tapenade with anchovies and smokey tomato jam on flat Bedouin galette) – This galette came spread with the tomato jam, sprinkled with some mixed greens, and a large healthy dollop of the tapenade plopped in the middle. I didn’t spread any of the tapenade on my part of the bread, which apparently was a good move because it was really salty, as my friend reported.

Everything was served in very healthy proportions. It was all brought out in approximately the order written, and by the end, we just couldn’t eat anymore, much to our great pity, having to leave behind some of the latter two dishes. It was a pity we had to skip dessert – I’d have loved to have tried the seven spice flourless chocolate torte – but another time. With the Bastilla. Because I am definitely returning – perhaps for lunch also, as the open-faced sandwiches served on the Berber bread look really tempting.

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