After a shopping trip to Ryde’s French Market, from which they came away laden with cheese and sausages, Matt and Cat wandered down Union Street in search of somewhere new to eat. Yes, even after 120+ reviews there still are places in Union Street that have yet to enjoy Matt and Cat’s scrutiny. Today it was the turn of Kasbah, the Moroccan Cafe-Bar.
The first time M & C essayed a review at Kasbah, it had just that moment experienced a flood from upstairs, and bowls and pans were set around the bar and floor to catch the onslaught. The doughty staff welcomed them in nonetheless, but your reviewers retreated elsewhere. This time there was no flood, just the gentle world music tinkling in the background, a welcoming table of Sunday papers, and a splendid view over the Solent out of the open front door.
Certainly, Kasbah has managed to create a very unusual environment in what was, not too long ago, a traditional town pub. The Moroccan theme is comprehensively exploited, even extending to their impressive website (complete with annoyingly un-turn-off-able Dead Can Dance samples). But would the food measure up? Outside, a sign proudly claimed ‘Full Menu Served All Day’, and indeed a comprehensive list of tapas-type food along with a good number of more substantial meals were on offer. Cat, having just had her breakfast, had no capacity for a meal so she asked for a pot of tea, whilst Matt – able to eat at any time of day or night, chose baked potato with bacon, with a pint of bitter shandy to wash it down. Bizarrely, the server offered this with Strongbow – Matt declined this and chose instead the more conventional John Smiths.
There then followed a longish wait, during which time the elegantly-dressed young ladies behind the bar didn’t quite find time to clean the rather crumby table, but which did allow Matt and Cat to soak up some more of the very relaxing atmosphere, and read the Sunday magazines. The promised potato did eventually materialise, but the drinks didn’t. Upon enquiry, the waitress apologised, and soon a brimming pint appeared. There was still no sign of the tea. A further gentle reminder was necessary before the full order was delivered.
The potato was a big disappointment. Although of a reasonable size, it was simply a microwaved spud split down the middle. Prepacked butter was available, but the potato itself came adorned with nothing whatsoever. It was not even browned-off in the oven, but had that characteristically dry and pallid texture that only a good microwaving can impart. Alongside was served the stars of the dish – two big sizzling rashers of delicious freshly cooked smoked bacon. To garnish came some limp and browned iceberg lettuce with tomatoes with salad dressing. Overall, not really good enough. Cat’s tea, by contrast, was quite serviceable. Alas there was no pot – it came in a mug with the teabag inside but, as consolation, a big jug of fresh milk came with it; the tea seemed to hit the spot.
Kasbah was a great place to relax, with splendid atmosphere in a great location. Probably ideal for a quiet drink with friends. But food – well, perhaps they haven’t quite sorted that bit out yet. Matt and Cat were left feeling rather glad that they had not ventured onto the main menu and tested the Kasbah’s promises which included moules mariniere, Moroccan chicken, or battered cod. Frankly, if they can’t pull off a baked spud the prospect of these fancier meals does not appeal.