By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
Initially, half the space was devoted to the market, with six rows of shelving loaded with foodstuffs. It even had a fresh meat case. But the menu got so popular that the Yanouri brothers decided to gradually scuttle Kasbah's market leg. They hope to liquidate what remains over the next couple of months and install a private dining area in the space where Slurpee and Big Gulp machines once churned.
Yanouri says he pillaged his mother's recipes to build this menu, and he will drape more of her creations over its Moroccan skeleton frame as the market withers away. For now, Kasbah has three tagines, the slightly sweet North African stews named for the dish as well as the traditional clay pot in which it is stewed. Tagines are typically invigorated with garlic, onion, cumin, cinnamon and sometimes allspice and ground ginger sparking slow-cooked beef, lamb and chicken. Fes chicken tagine is a piece of breast slumbering in a fatigue-green preserved lemon sauce prodigiously bumped with Spanish green olives. A fluffy bump of rice rests nearby. Lamb kabobs, four blackened nuggets of richly savory (though slightly dry) lamb on a bleach white mound of grains surrounded by roasted peppers, are stunning.
As a 7-Eleven denuded of Little Debbie and chili-lime-flavored Big Eats Griller Sausages might suggest, Kasbah is minimalist in demeanor. The tables are simple metal frames brimmed with resin trapping tiles and stones. A boom box, parked on a wooden shelf near the front window, blasts Moroccan compositions with voices weaving though rolling strings of microtones. Walls sweat a street-market stock of decorative mirrors, plates, muskets, old shutters, dishes, sconces and paintings of sparse Moroccan landscapes. A wire rack stocked with Muslim phone books is posted near the door.
At lunch, Kasbah absorbs a steady trickle of utility workers, Irving cops and business people furiously working Palm Pilots and cell phones. They slurp soup and devour sandwiches, which include shawarmas--beef, chicken or lamb slowly roasted, garnished with lettuce, tomatoes and garlic sauce and wrapped in pita. The sandwiches also include falafel.
The falafel is swaddled in pita blankets too. Wrapped in thin paper and foil, the tasty sandwich dribbles milky garlic sauce. Chunks of crispy spicy falafel--patties of fried chickpea--are jumbled with lettuce, tomato and pickles. A small plastic ramekin (no industrial tubes this time) of fierce red pepper sauce provides electric drizzle.
Kasbah Grill is a remarkable outpost. It's hard to imagine squeezing more buck bangs out of a menu. But more important than strict value, Kasbah is a rich breath of sensuality that is as uncommon as its digs are pedestrian: a weirdly wonderful hash of convenience and exotica. 2851 Esters Road, Irving, 214-596-9206. Open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday-Thursday, and 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday $-$$