2115 J Street
5 p.m. to 3 a.m. daily
Who knew belly dancers could be so discrete. The one who came out around 8 p.m. on our visit to Kasbah Lounge last Sunday was wearing some gauzy material over her actual belly. Which is something I'd never seen before. Maybe that's the winter uniform.
No matter. We were more focused on the food. After a long day out that included a chilly hike (and almost getting hit by a tailgater-wherever you are, curse you, our necks hurt for two days) we were hungry. Kasbah offered a bit of warm, dark escape.
Kasbah is located next to Tapa the World, and share the same address and management. We couldn't get the tables we wanted, where you all sit low on couches, Middle Eastern-style, as the entire section had been reserved by a large group. But we got cozy anyway, and got down to eating.
First we had the Fatoush salad ($7.50), a "torn" salad with toasted pita, cucumber, tomato, baby lettuces and falafel croutons. The most notable part about this dish to us was the bits of salted lemon used to flavor it. My significant other owns a lemon tree, and we've been experimenting with this ourselves. Just cut up some lemons, add lots of salt and a few other spices, then leave in an airtight jar with a bunch of lemon juice for almost a month, turning the jar over occasionally to distribute the flavor. Then rinse, and just use the rinds to cut up and flavor a meal.
This is a staple of much Moroccan cooking, and they last a year without being refrigerated. In fact, we had just made a batch, and I was inspired to try cooking with it the next night. I was a little too stingy with it salted lemon, and put them in too early, but I'm getting the idea. The flavor is tangy and intense.
Next, we had the stuffed dates ($7.50). This is a Kasbah signature dish: blue cheese and Spanish Chorizo stuffed Majool dates fried in a lemon batter. Not exactly low fat, they came out looking like a Middle Eastern hushpuppy. They were both savory and sweet, and came out so hot we had to cut them open and let them cool. We each saved one for out last bite of the meal, as they made a nice desert.
For a "large plate" main course, we had the Merguez ($10.50), a spicy North African Lamb sausage served over beluga lentils with preserved lemon-cilantro yogurt & shredded cucumber. The portions were small-only the plate itself was really larger-but we were fine, because the food was so filling. The biting sausage mixed nicely with the yogurt.
Kasbah is also a popular nightspot, staying open late every evening. The one time I'd ever been before was for drinks and tea. You can often find people taking puffs off of large ornate hukkahs, water pipes used to smoke flavored tobacco (yes, just tobacco).