Friday, March 10, 2006

Restaurant Week Part II: Tangierino

My birthday week and Boston Restaurant Week continued with a surprise restaurant destination. Carla picked me up at my house on Thursday at 7 with Mapquest directions in hand. We were off to Charlestown, to an exotic Moroccan restaurant called Tangierino.

You don't know quite what to expect when you step off the historic, quaint streets of Charlestown into a place like Tangierino. Luckily, once you walk into the restaurant, you soon realize you're not in Charlestown anymore. You are in Morocco. Beaded light fixtures, shades of ruby red sheers flowing from ceiling to floor separating out the space, and lush couches with ample throw pillows all work seamlessly together to provide a comfortable environment to have drinks, appetizers or a full meal. A separate room even offers hookah tobacco smoking for those who are adventurous and long for the days of smoking in restaurants. An occasional belly dancer even wiggles by, accepting dollars tucked in her minimalist attire should you be inclined to tip her (seems a little stripper-esque for me but clearly I'm not her target audience).

I thought to myself, this place is beautiful and exotic but how good is the food? Once we took our first bite of our appetizers, we knew our expectations would be exceeded. I started with a Tuna Tartar appetizer - layers of spicy yellow fin, crab meat, honeyed mango, wild mint, cucumber and guacamole. Not only did it melt in my mouth, the presentation was absolutely beautiful as you can see from the photo to the right.

Carla's appetizer of choice was the delicate domed phyllo pie of chicken, toasted almond and mint yogurt sauce. When the appetizer came, it looked more like empanadas than a phyllo pie but again, the presentation was stellar. The flavors of this appetizer were wonderful, both sweet and savory, kind of like an appetizer and dessert combined. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Not at all.

For dinner, Carla ordered the house specialty, Sultan's Kadra (pictured below), which consists of Za'atar spiced filet of lamb, cheese filled eggplant, shitake mushrooms, poached figs, carmelized apricot with rosemary reduction. Seems like an overdose on ingredients but the flavors are very harmonious. The eggplant is stacked on top of the lamb so you can slice down through the whole thing and enjoy all the flavors in one bite. I've never had anything quite like it. I think I recommend ordering this the most out of everything we tried.

I ordered the Tagine of lemony chicken, rubbed in herbs and preserved lemon, with spinach and green olives, shallots and friend potatoes. A tagine is a Moroccan triangular shaped cooking vessel that keeps all the moisture in the dish. The waiter brough the tagine to the table and lifted the top when he served the dinner. Very nice presentation. The dish itself was very nice. The strongest flavors were the lemon and olives which I love with chicken. Not as eventful as the Sultan's Kadra but very good nonetheless.

We both had sangria with our dinner and it was excellent. Sometimes sangria either tastes too much like pure red wine or too sweet and fruity. This sangria had the perfect balance.

Even after all that delicious food, I was still skeptical about dessert. I wasn't sure they'd put as much effort into the dessert as the rest of the foods (many restaurants fall short on dessert so they wouldn't have been alone). However, much to our surprise the desserts were beautiful and deliciuos as well. Carla's molten flourless chocolate soufflé was rich and delicious, however we agreed that my almond chocolate mousse cake was the winner hand's down. The chocolate on the outside was crunchy (almost Eskimo Pie-like but with nuts) and the inside featured layers of moist rich cake with chocolate mousse. I loved the combination of textures. It was a huge dessert however and had to leave most of it on the plate. Pity.

Tangierio is definitely worth the trip to Charlestown. Hit up a friend for a ride, call a cab, reserve a zipcar. Whatever it takes. Just round up your friends and transport yourself to Morocco for an evening. It's a fun, unique experience.

Thanks for the more than pleasant surprise, Carla!

83 Main Street, Charlestown, MA, 617.242.6009


Blogger xoxobono said...

I love giving birthday presents that I get to enjoy as well :)
You described the food perfectly... it was delicious and beautiful!
Where are we going next?!?!

9:06 AM  

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