Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Carthage Cafe, minus elephants

A rave review of this new Tunisian place brought me and my friend Terry to The Carthage Cafe last Sunday. The website said it opened at 4:00 but when we arrived there at that hour, we were told to come back in half an hour and directed to a delightful bar accross the street on Commercial Drive. Thankfully the open sign was finally we turned on and we entered the small, comfortable cafe in search of Hannibal's treasures. Didn't see any elephants though.
I wanted to eat something that one would find in a restaurant in Tunisia and the Tunisian Salad promised authenticity. Diced apple and other salad ingredients in an herb dressing. Very refreshing. I can imagine, with Roman legions pounding at his front door, Hannibal could transport himself to a happier realm just by nibbling on some herbed apple.

The server reccommended the halibut, which Terry had decided to have even before we got to the Cafe, after consulting the review and the menu at Carthage's website. Although there are no halibut anywhere near Tunisia, we were told the preparation was authentic. A cumin reduction. Tasted vaguely Indian. Terry couldn't stop raving about it. I was intimidated just looking at this vast collection of food, seemingly more of an elephant meal than something a human could attempt.

The coquilles St. Jacques was superb. The thick cheesy sauce perfectly melded the scallops into the potatoes. This is supposed to be a small meal? Possibly for an elephant. I had to take it home to finish later. Amazingly good.

I also ordered the prawns. They weren't bad, but not in the same league as the scallops. I think there sauce wasn't thick enough.
We didn't have any desert and drank only water with our meal so it was quite cheap. A great addition to Vancouver's growing list of national cuisines from around the globe.


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