Show Tunes And Good Food

This is the first of what I hope will be a regular event — a guest blogger! Please ignore the shot she takes at New Jersey…obviously, she has never had a fried hot dog!

One of the most difficult
decisions I have to make when going to the theater in
New York City is where to eat. Do we eat before the theater and
rush through dinner, or do we eat a ridiculously late dinner? Do we try a new,
trendy place certain to disappoint? Unfortunately, in the
Times Square area, the pickings are slim…unusual for a New York neighborhood. I suspect that is because Times Square caters predominantly to tourists and natives from
New Jersey who don’t know better. I have had many a mediocre
meal at crowded Italian, French, Japanese, and Chinese restaurants in the area.

This problem was solved
on Sunday when I discovered Tagine, which serves the best Moroccan food I’ve had
New York. With lots of friendly advice from the charming executive chef and co-owner,
Hamid, and his magnificent wife and co-owner, Toni, we were served an assortment of cold mezze (kale, eggplant and olive dishes), followed
by the sublime bastilla as appetizers. The bastilla was certainly the best I
have ever tried, made with pheasant (not pigeon.) Bastilla is a fillo pie
stuffed with stewed pheasant in saffron broth and glazed with almond and
cinnamon. As a main course, we shared a vegetable couscous stewed in chick pea
broth, lamb tagine with prunes and almonds, and chicken tagine with preserved
lemon and olives. And for dessert, we had a fruit platter, on the house.

The service was extremely
friendly, the Moroccan wine was excellent (believe it or not), and the ambience
was exactly how I imagine a traditional restaurant in
Fez. Even more wonderful, the bill was reasonable. I
understand belly dancing begins at
9:30 p.m., which my sons would have loved to watch but we
had to go home to finish homework. The kitchen at Tagine stays open until
2:00 a.m., but the bar serves until 4:00 a.m. on the weekends. The restaurant is located at 537 9th Avenue at 40th Street. Why
’t I found it before? Because, even though they request a listing each
year, they have never been listed in Zagats. This restaurant is a real sleeper — rustic and warm, with superb food.

Incidentally, when I
described my find to a friend, she said Sushi by Gari is also opening in the
Theater District.

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