Casablanca has a strong consumer culture. If you love shopping and food, you can have your heyday in this city. New restaurants are the talk of the town, and the opening of La Flamme d’Istanbul was no different. Plastered on billboards, delivery trucks, and Facebook, the new Turkish restaurant was well-marketed and their Turkish chefs became local celebrities. We stumbled on its location during a morning stroll and I couldn’t help but grab a menu. With my limited French food vocabulary, I successfully identified a handful of vegan dishes and was anxious to try them since I’ve always enjoyed Turkish cuisine and hospitality.
One very special friend of mine was in the neighborhood, so we planned to meet at La Flamme for lunch. We both were riding high on anticipation and couldn’t wait to add our impressions to the growing list of rave reviews. The sleek modern décor with colorful, hanging lanterns was inviting. Our waiters didn’t don their red Fez hats that day but they were cordial and attentive.
Before placing our order I had two inquiries to make: Was the lentil soup of the day vegan? Can I have my hummus without Turkish yogurt? Disappointingly, the soup had chicken in it but the hummus didn’t have yogurt as the menu indicated, so I proceeded to order the latter. Lil’ Z had her heart set on French fries—a rare treat– and I added baba ghanoush to our order. For meat-eaters, the offerings are abundant but the plant-based options were limited. Nonetheless, I looked forward to tasting the familiar staple dishes I’ve always enjoyed.
The French fries were served in the cutest little fry basket with small dishes of ketchup and Dijon mustard. Both the hummus and baba ghanoush looked appetizing alongside the warm, baked rounds of bread. Once my friend’s meal arrived, we started eating and casually chatting. As usual, our conversation was rich but at some point I realized that the food was lacking in flavor. I would taste again and again searching for the familiar delight of Turkish cuisine but found it absent. Though we haven’t made it to Turkey yet, we’ve enjoyed their cuisine as one of our favorites in Oman. How could La Flamme be so off? My friend agreed that the hummus was bland but assured me that the meat she ordered was pretty good. “Perhaps their specialty is all things meaty”, I suggested to her while debriefing our visit. The most satisfying part of my meal was their baklava which was lightly sweetened, filled with cinnamon and walnuts, and topped with ground pistachios. It was the best I’ve had in a while and the only dish I would return for in the future.