We dashed in with 30 minutes to spare before a movie at the Kentlands theater across the street. It was 7:45 on a Saturday so we were happy they had empty tables and seated us immediately. Walking to the table we told the waitress about our tight schedule, she said it would be alright. She seated us, gave us menus and recommended dishes that could be served quickly. We were on too tight a schedule for bastilla. We ordered lamb with raisins and almonds, and the lemon chicken. She said "I'll tell my mother you're in a hurry". Gotta love a family restaurant!
There was a man playing what looked like a lute accompanied by a woman with finger cymbals. Not too loud to easily hold a conversation even though we were only 10 feet away from them. The music was a nice addition to the cushy seating and decor. Since we didn't know anything about the restaurant we were pleasantly surprised when a belly dancer joined them. She spent some time at the front of the restaurant and then would pass along the aisles between the tables. She would chat with you if you liked, or not. She definitely wasn't intrusive and the dancing was pretty and exotic without being sexual. (So I would not hesitate to take my kids or my grandmother there).
Dinner and wine arrived faster than we could have imagined. Although since we ordered tagines, which are essentially casseroles, it makes sense that they lend themselves to long, slow cooking and can just be held warm until served. We enjoyed both entrees. Both had bones but the meat simply fell off with a nudge of the fork. The lamb was good with raisins that had plumped up with the cooking juices and a surprising crunch of almonds. The chicken had a tangy lemon flavor. We both slightly preferred the more assertive sauce of the chicken. I'm going to steal their clever way of serving rice by scooping it into a stoneware teacup, inverting it on the plate and leaving the cup to keep the rice warm until it reaches the table. Tasty rolls were served with surprisingly spicy olives (the salt cured type, rather than brined). And both of the red wines we tried were enjoyable.
Prices were reasonable, service was excellent, atmosphere far more interesting than the chains. And I disagree with another reviewer who said it was too noisy. (I don't go to Macaroni Grill anymore because I hate yelling across the table over the din). I think it would be a great place for a date. :)
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