Rock the casbah at Morocco's
Downtown Mountain View restaurant is a world of entertainment
Morocco's restaurant is trying very hard. It could be just the place for couples, possible couples, and families out for a good time that doesn't cost a fortune.
With live entertainment just about every night, Morocco's is more in tune with "Rock the Casbah" than with, say, Zitune, the Los Altos fine-dining Moroccan restaurant that closed early this year. On the other hand, Morocco's business plan may ride out the recession.
Portions are generous for the price. Not every dish sings, but servers know the menu, the owners are super-friendly, and how often do you get to eat under a colorful, flowing tent?
Start with five briwatts ($10), little triangular filo dough pies stuffed with your choice of fillings. Like bastilla, these are crisp and topped with cinnamon and confectioners' sugar. The chicken filling was tasty, but a little mushier than shredded.
Seven salads offer a wide variety, from spicy cucumber to sweet orange and carrot. All are $8.50, and during lunch hours you can make a meal by adding chicken, beef or shrimp kebabs ($4-$6).
Eggplant puree salad was excellent, spiced with a cumin kick. But it was served with wheat crackers. If you're going to serve mass-produced crackers in a Moroccan restaurant, how about pita? As one of my companions observed, "Make an effort."
It's odd, because effort is certainly made elsewhere. The wine list is well chosen to match the food, with nearly 20 choices. It lights up when you open it, as if happy to see you. Not only easy to read, it's easy to price: Whether from Morocco or Monterey, all wines are $10 a glass, $35 a bottle. We asked about three, and were given tastes before deciding.
Morocco's also has beer and spirits. The house sangria ($8) is like cold mulled wine, thick and redolent of cloves, cinnamon and lemon. It tastes like dessert.
Our best entree was the beef tagine ($18), slightly sweet and very tenderly braised with prunes and Turkish dried apricots. Sesame seeds and Marcona almonds dot the top. In fancier Moroccan restaurants, tagines are served in colorful clay pots with tent-shaped lids. Morocco's doesn't do that. The menu describes tagine as "a crock pot before the crock-pot was invented."
In the fresh fish and vegetable tagine ($18.50), tender mild white fish was set off nicely with garlic, cumin, cilantro and paprika and mixed vegetables.
The same carrots, zucchini and onions showed up in the lamb and vegetable couscous ($19), which featured a meaty lamb shank and garbanzo beans.
There are also three vegetarian tagines and a vegetarian couscous.
Two items were disappointing. The chicken kebabs ($13.50) may have been grilled but they weren't skewered. Instead of chunks of meat with a little crust, there were small pieces stuck together. And the Moroccan bread was leaden.
If you're feeling celebratory or very hungry and have at least four people, the eight-course menu ($29.95) offers choices in each course.
In Mountain View as at the 3-year-old Morocco's in San Jose, there is musical entertainment every night. It ranges from belly dancing to blues, so if there's some type of music you'd really rather not eat with, check the events listing on Morocco's website, moroccosrestaurant.com. The Mountain View restaurant is small. The night we visited, however, the musicians played happily in a corner and were not at all intrusive.
Yelpers have carped about the automatic dine-in 15 percent service charge. Our servers deserved the 18 percent they got.
Credit cards: yes
Outdoor dining: sidewalk
Party and banquet facilities: yes
Noise level: fine
Wheelchair access: yes
Bathroom cleanliness: good
873 Castro St., Mountain View (650) 968-1502
Hours: Lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday. Dinner 5-10 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday, 5-11 p.m. Thursday-Saturday