FACT & Kasbah Cafe, Liverpool

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We enjoyed a night out in Liverpool on Saturday with good friends to watch the new Muppets film and have a bite to eat.

It was my first visit to FACT – the arts centre come cinema just off Bold Street. My friend Sally had already told me that it was ok to take drinks- proper grown up drinks- into the screen with you, so it was a Bruce-y Bonus when I saw that they had Hoegaarden on tap in the bar. Wheat beer and puppets; what more could a girl want on a Saturday! When we got onto the screen to find cosy little sofas instead of hard cinema seats, I was made up. It costs a bit more than your average multi-screen cinema, but well worth it for the surroundings. Beer consumed, film enjoyed, we set off in search of dinner at peak Saturday night time with no booking.

I’d noticed the Kasbah Cafe a couple of time in recent weeks when I was walking up to Leaf to meet friends. The first time I saw it, I will admit I thought that it was a Moroccan furniture store and admired the little leather pouffes in the window. It was only when I walked by again and people were sitting in the window that the penny dropped. We didn’t have a booking but they were keen to keep our custom, so promised us a table if we could wait ten minutes. Menus were provided and staff kept popping over to check that we were ok. It gave us time to admire the interior- all leather pouffes, metal lanterns and pots of spices.

Once we were seated (opposite the tiny open kitchen which runs along one wall) we took a good look at the menu. There was a tapas style menu from which we all ordered as a starter, and then a menu of salads, couscous, tagines, grills and sides.

To start I had makdous: tangy ‘eggplant’ stuffed with garlic, oil and walnuts. Wowsers, were they tangy! Really tasty but there were three on the plate, hubby had one and a half and I was still stuffed! I hadn’t expected it to be cold when I took the first bite, but they really packed in a massive amount of flavour. My other half had Briouats Lala Zhour: feta in filo parcels with a little spicy relish. These were tasty but the way the cheese had melted (kind of stringy) and tasted made me suspect that it wasn’t feta but something else.

Both couples managed to order the same for mains- a tagine de fez and lamb kofta brochettes from the grill. The tagine came thankfully without the comedy hats, but was a delicious slow cooked lamb with apricots, almonds and spices. It came with a really tasty Moroccan bread which a much tastier, fluffier version of a pitta or flatbread. My kofta, had three massive pieces of minced lamb kebab which had been marinated and was gloriously tender. The saffron rice which it came with was super soft and there was a veritable mountain of it. The two of us who ordered the kofta actually ordered them with fries, but were told that the rice came as standard as well. Carb over load but between us all plates were cleared!

This is a booze-free restaurant which we realised when waiting for our table next to the chiller cabinet full of soft drinks. But don’t let this deter you- the food is so good that you really don’t need a cold beer or glass or red in your hand. Instead, go for a pot of Moroccan tea – a pot of fresh mint tea served up in traditional decorated glasses.

The staff were wonderful, regularly checking we were ok but never overly intrusive. When our fries were late in coming with the main course (which wasn’t an issue as we had so much to be going on with anyway!), we were offered complimentary desserts to make up for it. When we assured them that we couldn’t possible fit any more in, we were given two boxes of tiny sweet pastries to take home for breakfast. And my, were they good this morning!

Apparently all of those wonderful bits of decor are for sale. So in a way I am glad it was an alcohol free zone as I might have put a pouffe on my credit card!

Even on our way out, as the hailstones started to pelt down outside, the staff assured us that we could hang around until the storm had passed, and anointed our hands with refreshing rose water.

The warm, friendly atmosphere created by the staff and the top notch quality of the food means that a return visit is guaranteed!

Kasbah Cafe Bazzar

Bold Street, Liverpool

Web: kasbahcafebazaar.co.uk

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