I won’t wait longer than 10-15 minutes for a table, that is, unless I’m on vacation, or traveling for work, and/or know I might not be back this way for a while. This is exactly what happened when we arrived at Café Mogador in Williamsburg (Brooklyn). We are told there will be a 40 minute wait, so we take a stroll around the neighborhood and return back 30 minutes later.
An hour goes by and we find ourselves sitting inside enjoying some tea instead of hovering outside in the cold. Not everyone in our party has arrived so we chat and sip on tea while we wait. An hour and 20 minutes — can you hear my belly rumbling? — we are finally seated and immediately order appetizers for the table.
Beluga Lentil Salad ($11.50) with marinated beets, roasted carrot and homemade ricotta is simple, but the flavors melded together perfectly with great textural contrast to boot.
One of my favorites is Roasted Eggplant ($5.95) served with tahini and a sprinkle of paprika. I love the smokiness and lusciously rich mouth-feel of this vegetarian offering.
A friend orders Labne ($5.95) and we can’t stop eating it. Hot pita is provided to dip or slather any of the appetizers with, and we eagerly do so, going through several plates of the warm puffy bread with glee. The Tabouli ($5.95) is equally good, with the perfect amount of acid highlighting its freshness and brightness on the palate.
Being the eggplant fiend that I am, I can happily say, the Babaganoush ($5.95) does not disappoint one bit. Creamy smooth and packed with smoky aromas from the roasted eggplant, this ranks on my top five babaganoush I’ve had to date.
Our entrées, whether traditional or not, are all stellar in portion, and taste.
Grilled Hangar Steak ($21) with red wine sauce, fried shallots, served with French fries and watercress salad, is a solid choice for my friend’s husband looking for a meat option. The watercress salad is perfectly dressed with a little lemon juice and olive oil. The steak is at an ideal medium rare and well-seasoned.
The Lamb Tagine ($21) is offered in four styles, we chose “charmoulla” which is an entire lamb shank bathed in a chermoula sauce vibrantly hued by cilantro and packed with flavors from cumin, and preserved lemons. The lamb is fork-tender and mouthwatering good.
Opt for couscous instead of rice as this fluffy mound of grainy goodness is addicting and you’ll want something to soak the sauce with when you get to the end.
If you’re not into red meat, then Moroccan Fish Tagine ($23) is a beautiful fish stew with chunks of wild black sea bass, swimming in a spicy tomato, cilantro, saffron sauce alongside potatoes, carrots, and red pepper. Simply stunning on the tastebuds.
There is another location in Manhattan, and they close late so if you can’t get a table, try to get there a little after the dinner rush. Alternatively, snag a seat at the bar if there’s one open.
133 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11249