Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Old world Harvard Sq - Casablanca

40 Brattle Street, Harvard Square
Casablanca is one of those old institutions in Harvard Square, having been around since the 50's. It was where my former boss took me for my welcome lunch, and since then we've had a number of other goodbye and welcome lunches given it was so close to my old office. They have different menus for lunch and dinner, as well as small bites and tapas menus for different times of the day. When you go in the front door off of Brattle Street, the first room in the front has a lot of light and the back room tends to be more social (albeit darker). They brought a delicious bread basket to our table - with fresh pita and another softer sourdough bread. They also bring table salt and pepper to mix with oil for dipping - delicious!
As you'll see above and to the left, we shared the Grilled Calamari and Hearts of Palm Salad (w/ avocados, tomatoes, shaved red onion, cilantro and citrus vinaigrette) and the Pan Seared Salmon (served with shrimp and feta arancini, wilted pea greens, tzatziki and charmoula). Between the bread and these two dishes it was plenty of food for the two of us. The salad was dressed lightly, the way we like it, the avocado ripe and fresh, and the calamari tasted like it was really just grilled out back (and not too chewy). The salmon portion was a large one - and cooked just right, because I hate when salmon is undercooked. The arancini was the first thing we both tried - and liked, but they were heavy and fried. The pea greens weren't overcooked either - and were a nice change from other veggies you tend to find on the side of a restaurant main dish. There was a bit too much tzatziki on the plate for my liking. The charmoula is a marinade typical of this region used on fish/seafood - it's made of a mixture of herbs, oil, lemon, garlic, cumin and salt. It is the darker paste you see on top of the salmon here. Overall there was a lot of flavor in both of these dishes and we were happy with our choices!

In the past for lunch I've enjoyed their flatbread pizza with grapes (except the annoying seeds), their turkey breast sandwich (except the spicy aioli), and they have this unique stuffed baby eggplant dish that's great. Definitely check out Casablanca if you haven't been there before!

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