Casablanca's website was designed many years ago; they have the dreaded "voted best" as a selling point, in this case, voted "Most Romantic Restaurant". I'm not sure who voted or when that was, but it would be difficult to make that case today.jump-->
I've never been a fan of the place. The outdoor space has old patio furniture, but on an 80 degree may day you don't want to eat inside. It was pretty crowded at 2:15pm; I hate the bar here, which is usually a bunch of Euros smoking, if they still allow it. So I wanted on line for a table. The hostess seemed to think that I was with the Indian family waiting for a big table,so I had to step forward. "Do you want an actual table?", she asked. "Yes, I'd like an ACTUAL table". She seated me on a separate side patio, which was ACTUALLY pretty nice; away from the too-close-together tables. There was a group of ladies dining who were just leaving, so I had the space to myself for awhile.
Casablanca Cafe Side Patio
There's one big table for 6 or 8 and 2 small tables for 2; the tables for 2 have both seats facing the ocean. They're probably the only romantic spots in the place.
Casablanca Cafe View
The server was out delivering checks for the other tables when I arrived, so my iced tea order was taken right away.
Casablanca Cafe Ice Tea
A Mahi special (really?) didn't catch my eye; nor did any of the entrees. They're still on the "Angus" beef trick here, which is the same as saying "the stuff you get in the supermarket". I went with the East Coast Chowder (aka New England Clam Chowder) and the Beef Carpaccio, made with, you guessed it. Angus beef.
There's no music in this part of the restaurant; just road noise. Mostly lower class people walking around; pretty entertaining overall. It took a LONG time for the server to come out with my soup.
Casablanca Cafe East Coast Chowder
The soup had been sitting for so long that it had started to form a crust on top. The soup had skin-on potatoes in it, which is unusual. The seasoning in the soup was spot-on; it was very tasty and there was no scrimping to favor the sodium police. Very short of clams, however; for $8 you should get more clam meat.
My soup was empty for quite a while. A couple was seated next to me during the wait. "Service here is intermittent", I quipped. It was another 5 minutes before the appetizer arrived.
Nice looking beef with a big load of Arugula. Whole peppercorns serve no purpose; this would have been better with a couple of turns of freshly ground pepper; what am I supposed to do with a whole peppercorn?The beef was fine; a small portion as the beef is razor thin. Maybe there was 2oz of beef here.
A note about this place is that it's a popular same-sex couple place, so if you're uncomfortable with that you should keep that in mind.
When I first moved to Fort Lauderdale, the "buzz" was that this was the place for a romantic rendezvous. To me, it's not a very comfortable restaurant. I want a nice booth when I'm on a date, not a table 2 feet from another.
This place could be a lot better if they didn't nickel and dime the ingredients; a few extra clams and another oz of beef can make all the difference between someone coming back or not. Punch that into your spreadsheet.
On a nice day you can't beat the view.
When you think of a place called the "Casablanca Cafe", you figure you might find moroccan food, or maybe some piano music similar to that in the movie. But there is none of that here. Set in a mediterranian-style house, Casablanca is a casual restaurant by the beach that has an aire of romance not found at the sidewalk restaurants just down the road. And the food is pretty good. They do have a Moroccan Sampler, so I guess there you have it.
There are a lot of things I don't like about the Casablanca Cafe. During the day, the inside is dark and deserted. There's smoking outside, and if the place is packed with euros and their skinny cigarettes its just not comfortable eating here. Their "house salad" is rabbit food and there is no choice of dressing. They try too hard to be fancy. Pickles don't go with a fish sandwich. And some of their homemade condiments are downright nasty. More on that later.
That being said, the preperation of your main meal is very good here. My favorite lunch is the grouper sandwich. Its crispy (but not breaded) and tastes excellent with a bit of salt and pepper. Its comes on a nice, soft "hoagie" roll thats lightly toasted. They give you a "tropical aioli" sauce (which is usually a garlicy mayonaise). Make sure you taste it before you ruin your sandwich. Maybe you'll like it, but to me its just salty and foul-tasting. With a lunch sandwich you get a choice of french fries or a rabbit salad (field greens); if you don't mind the calories the fries work much better. They also have a lobster salad sandwich (think Lobster Roll) on bimini bread, pulled pork and a leg of lamb sandwich, which isn't something you find very often.
For dinner they have a wide range of interesting choices which is more focused on meats than the lunch menu, including a delicious flank steak dish with black bean corn relish, and a korean-style (Kai Bi) Duck. You're sure to find something of interest.