Menu: View the Menu
It’s not every city, no matter how sophisticated, where you can hear someone ask “Hey, honey, do you feel like Moroccan tonight?” But that query is being asked with increasing frequency in New York, which is why Omar Balouma and Abdellah Ksyier, the owners of Barbes, have migrated to Soho and unveiled Babouche, a stylish two-story eatery located next to the fashionable L’Occitane store on the corner of Prince and Mercer Streets. (The two establishments are connected, so one can even go shopping during the meal if the store is open! How very very New York!)Review By: Brian Scott Lipton.
Downstairs at Babouche – named for the leather slippers worn at home by Moroccans – guests will find a lovely and comfortable lounge where an exhibition of belly dancing might break out at any moment. More serious dining occurs in the narrow, beautifully decorated upstairs space, where table are embedded with a brass “hand of God.” Even upstairs, however, the atmosphere can be quite scene-like, so if you’re seeking a quiet dinner, you may want to go elsewhere or at least come on the early side.
A fine communal starter is a plate of the house’s tasty hummus, served with not quite enough pita bread. For an individual beginning, consider superbly-made briouats, triangles of phyllo dough stuffed with a beautifully balanced mixture of shrimp and scallop, a superb stuffed tomato, heady with sardine, or a gorgeous towering salad starring mild but flavorful goat cheese.
Most of the entrees are cooked in the tagine, the traditional Moroccan ceramic dish that allows for slow cooking, and are served with the ubiquitous national side dish, couscous. (Babouche’s fluffy version is a primer on how to do this grain the right way!). Grilled salmon worked wonderfully, and a whole Cornish hen – though a bit tricky to eat – was also full of flavor. The most special of the mains we sampled featured a variety of seafood, fish, and seafood sausage mingled in the tagine with couscous that had been stained black with squid ink.
A small variety of desserts are on tap, but there’s essentially no choice but to indulge in the house’s pastilla au lait – the country’s natural dessert – an ultra-large Napoleon-like creation in which baked phyllo is covered with almond-milk, rosewater, and sprinkling of nuts to create an addictive treat. Wash it down with flavorful mint tea – another national treasure – and be grateful that we live in city where one doesn’t have to travel halfway around the world to indulge in such lovely exotica.
Chef: Lahcen Ksiyer
Hours: Lunch: Monday - Friday: 12:00pm - 4:00pm
Dinner: Sunday - Saturday: 4:00pm - 2:00am
Brunch: Saturday - Sunday: 11:00am - 4:00pm
Entree Price: $20-25
Payment: Amex Visa Mastercard Discover
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