On RidgeGirl?s advice, we went to Les Babouches, the Moroccan place on 3rd Ave. at 78th St. in Bay Ridge. It was everything she said.
It?s tiny - only about 12 tables for 2 and 4, with most of them along a wall with a padded banquette lined with throw pillows. The tables are nice sized, and the chairs are comfortably padded. No flowers, but 2 bottles of mineral water, a small candlestick and a pottery piece that looked like a salt/pepper set on each table which the waitress said were for Moroccan spices, but which were empty. At least at lunch, there was a sheet of white paper over the tablecloth. There were other little candle holders and small pieces of art on the walls, just the right number.
The food was terrific. Chewy, flavorful semolina bread came with excellent butter. Bakoula was a hockey puck size portion of chopped, cooked spinach with vinegar and other spices, surrounded by green olives, a well dressed salad and spicy pickled vegetables. Moroccan Cigar was well-spiced mixed vegetables in a feather-light crust of phyllo. They have 6 different kinds of tajine. I had the chicken with lemon and olives - as RidgeGirl said, falling-off-the-bone tender with a rich gravy, preserved lemon, olives, potato cubes and slivered almonds. My wife had lamb shank with prunes and just enough thick gravy. Slightly dry rice with raisins soaked up the gravy perfectly. With strong, syrupy-sweet Morrocan tea with mint, $44, and more than worth it.
The service was friendly and professional. Considering that the appetizers probably had to be cooked from scratch, the wait was not excessive. They have a full bar and an espresso machine.
High quality at a bargain price, and practically empty. Everybody go soon so they can stay in business.