After eating Jon Robbins' inspired French-North African fare atBistro Barbès
, I was hungry for more. Not just more of his upscale fusion, but more dishes such as the tagines and harira I came to love in Morocco, Algeria and France, a second home to many North African immigrants. Yesterday I couldn't stand it any longer, so I dropped everything and went in search of one of my favorites: couscous with vegetables.
At the time, I was around the corner from Mecca Grill, a Middle Eastern restaurant that I reviewed earlier this year. The owner had told me that she was planning on introducing Moroccan specialties, but when I called she wasn't in and the person on the line said the restaurant doesn't serve Moroccan food.
Then I tried nearby Tajine and Grill, and was told that there's a new owner but no Moroccan food. At Marrakech Grill, I heard a similar story. "We don't have couscous," said the employee, who explained that despite the Moroccan name, it's a Lebanese restaurant.
I couldn't go to Palais Casablanca because that's been boarded up for months, and Mataam Fez isn't open for lunch. So I did what any couscous-lover would do: I made the long trek to Cafe Paprika. Couscous isn't on the "express lunch" menu, but the owner said he could make it, as long as I wasn't in a rush.
By that point I was; I had a meeting across town in 45 minutes. But I really wanted the couscous. So I said okay, and hurried to the far corner of Aurora, where I was met with a Styrofoam container filled with what I'd been hoping for: a mound of couscous, golden grains plump and fluffy from being steamed, not boiled, covered with herbs, raisins and large hunks of soft carrots, zucchini and potatoes. Normally I'm not a fan of overcooked vegetables, but every time I've had the dish, that's the way it's been served, like vegetable soup without the broth.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
The portion was more than generous, so I have half tucked away in the fridge, the perfect comfort food on a cool day.