Rock the Kasbah (Kasbah Lounge - Sacramento, CA)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Luxurious fabrics drape the ceilings, as dim orange light bathes the enterence, creating a Maltese Falcon setting amongst the scent of searing mint, lamb, and hookah smoke. Sadly, this is not a lax hookah bar in the Middle East, but it is the next best thing.

Kasbah Lounge opened next door to the now popular Tapa the World, and is run by the very same owners Paul Ringstrom and Conni Levis. Also like Tapa, Kasbah serves small plates perfect for sharing, and stays open until 3 am. Sweet. We got there early, around 7, but by 9 the belly dancers (you heard me) were out doing their thang, and the place was starting to get jampacked and rollin'.

The luxuriously dim light and low seating, combined with decorative tables and cushiony pillows made for a wonderful place to gather with some friends for dinner. We were all amused to see the hookah bar outside, and contemplated a little jaunt to it after the meal. This was never to be as the food coma was too intense, our riveting conversation turning to catatonic droolings.

We ordered some pomegranate wine and mojitos to start things off. The mojito was actually a mint limeaide with rum. Same thing, but very smooth, and the mint was in no way obliterated by the lime like at most bars. Instead it mingled perfectly with the lime allowing both tastes to flourish. The pomegranate wine was indescribable; sweet, dry, exotic, and the perfect accompaniement to out meal.

Each dish at Kasbah is served as a small plate, but don't let that fool you as there is more than enough. Each plate can feed about four people; get four plates and everyone is more than set. We ordered six. Plus two desserts. Got damn, I need some self control.

The first dish brough to us was Fatima's Palette, warm and yummy flatbread served with three tasty mounds of Hummus, Lebne (a spiced yogurt), and Baba Ganoush. The three perfectly complimented each other, and each one's unique texture and taste was a champion all on it's own. The lebne in particular was throughly tasty with hints of mint and paprika. Total transportation to the Middle East.

Soon we were surprised with a plate of stuffed dates and one plate of ahi. Both had more than enough for four people, yet after a quick prayer to the most convenient dark God, we somehow made room. The dates were stuffed with chorizo and cabrales cheese, then deep fried in a lemon batter. While I had trouble tasting (or even finding) the cabrales, the chorizo was wonderfully spicy and lacked the usual greasiness you would expect, and the friend batter had the perfect hint of lemon. The ahi had been covered in spice rub and lightly grilled on all sides, served with cucumber strings all all covered in a light sesame dressing and a mound of the same yummy yogurt.

Next a tasty lamb stew with lentils, new potatoes, and lamb was served. The flat bread was perfect for acting as a spoon and made the meal all the more fun. Imagine four adults playing a game of bloody knuckles with flatbread tightly squeezed in each fist.

Our two kabob dishes arrived, one kabob with servings of chicken and shallots, the other with spiced ground beef. The beef doesn't really stick out in my mind, but the chicken was life changing. The spice was perfect, the shallots added the perfect counterpoint of sweet and tangy. Just... snap. Snaps for the chefs.

The one dish we saw a lot of but didn't try ourselves was a cheese covered in a quince paste, fried, then given some tableside flash via brandy flambe, followed by a squeeze of fresh lemon. Eye candy for sure, and I do so love fire.

Well, at this point we were all beyond full. But you know how it is; the waitress comes over and she tells you about dessert. She asks if you want any, and even though you're full you can't help but nod as the food coma deters your speech.

Sadly they were out of baklava. Words I never want to hear. "Out of bakalva," is akin to "We need to operate," or "The Simple Life: Season 5." I reluctantly acquiesced to an cafe' creme brule and a dish of fried banana's with caramel and vanilla bean ice cream. While tasty, they really didn't fall in with the rest of the menu like the baklava or rose milk pudding would have. It just seemed out of place.

Overall, the whole experience was dark, sexy, exotic, and a total blast. This is the perfect place to head to before or after a night on the town with friend, or as the sole destination!

Kasbah Lounge
2115 J Street
Sacramento, CA


  1. Thanks a bunch for making me starving at 9:30 at night! And thanks for the great review, too. I went to Tapa the World the other night and thought, hmmm, I wonder if that place next door is any good...

    Have you ever been to Marrakech on Fulton? That place is killer, too, but I don't think it has the cool factor that Kasbah sounds like it has.

    I think you should make "snaps for the chef" your tag line.

  2. Madeline, I heard about Marrakech, just haven't been there. I still need to visit Tapa again so I can write a review! I would heart an awesome tag line... LOL.

    Liz- Seriously. It was cruel of them.

  3. i have been to tapa many times and it our last visit we have noticed the Kasbah as well, but didn't get in. now, when we want to go downtown, another place to keep in mind ;) thanks for the post

  4. Awesome review! As a midtown resident, I've been trying to get to Kasbah ever since it opened. A bit of a slacker, huh? :o) Well, a large group of friends and I are set to go enjoy the hookah patio this Sunday in celebration of my birthday. I can't wait! We'll be doing dinner at a different Moroccan restaurant - Casablanca - prior to heading to Kasbah, but I think I'll definitely have to try some of the pomegranate wine when we get there! Glad to hear the food is good as well...we'll have to go back to try that aspect of it soon!

  5. Oh, and this is too funny....I found this post from a google search on Kasbah. Well, I just took a peek at your profile and recognized you from my friend Andrew's myspace. LOL! What a small world! And he'll be there with me on Sunday. :o)


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