Sunday, January 3, 2010

Casablanca Cafe - Romantic Beachside Dining

Casablanca Cafe - 3049 Alhambra Street, Fort Lauderdale FL 33304

New Year's Eve was filled with tons of delicious experiences.  I already told you about our amazing seafood lunch and now I'll go into more details about our dinner on the beach at Casablanca Cafe.  We couldn't have picked a better place to dine, as it was romantic, tasty and so much fun.

The best part about Casablanca is the setting--right on the beach, it's situated between the popular Las Olas Blvd and Sunrise Blvd.  I loved the beautiful Spanish style building--only later finding out that it's a restored historic home.  The inside is lovely, with rustic stucco walls, high ceilings and interesting alcoves that open up each room.  Vintage lanterns give the space a soft glow, making it romantic for couples.  And although the inside was charming, we chose to eat outside in the lovely weather, a novelty for us New Yorkers.

We perused the menu prior to our visit and were happy that Casablanca wasn't running an overpriced New Year's prix-fixe menu.  Instead they had their regular offering, which sounded wonderful, and tasted even better.

Fried Calamari - The general consensus was that we should get this so I obliged.  It was a nice way to start things off, as the calamari was nicely battered and not overly greasy.  I liked the creamy lemon thyme aioli it was dressed with and also enjoyed finding a surprising bed of crispy slaw on the bottom, a nice juxtaposition with the fried squid.

Onion Soup Gratin - I like to think of this soup as my guilty pleasure and I only get it on special occassions.  It's easy to mess it up by not baking the cheese enough but not here--the top had a golden brown, blistery crust, which I loved.  A mixture of mozzarella, parmesan and provologne made up the top, which was crunchy, tangy and salty.  The inside was more gentle, with a light onion broth and plenty of fluffy dissolved croutons.  Hands-down this soup was YUM!

Walnut Chicken - My entree was spectacular and quite complex for a chicken dish, consisting of a tender white chicken breast with ratatouille risotto, spinach pesto, fried onions on top and an aged balsamic reduction.  The risotto was my favorite part, as it paired beautifully with the tender chicken, and its consistency was creamy and luxurious.  The fried onions were an extra special touch that made a chicken dish feel more decadent.  Although the portion was generous, the dish was light and didn't leave you too full.

Dijon Rack of Lamb - The guys chose this meaty entree, which came with a side of crushed fingerling potatoes, seasoned veggies and a minted lamb jus.  I took a bite and liked it very much--the meat was tender, flavorful and very juicy.  The portion was large and the guys liked it very much, saying that it was a great "special occassion" dish.

Service and Cost:
Our waiter was nice but seemed distracted--I can't say I blame him, as it was one of the busiest nights for dining out.  Although the restaurant was full, our dishes came out promptly and we felt welcome to take our time with the check, receiving fun New Year's favors to ring in 2010.

Costs are moderate and I'd say affordable for New Year's Eve dinner.

Appetizers: $7.95-$13.95

Entrees: $19.95-$32.95
Sides: $4-$7.95

3 Mmmms

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