Saturday, January 31, 2009

Al Hamraa

For now, it's not easy to walk to the Ix building from downtown. That didn't keep us from doing it though. Walking down 2nd Street SE past Friendship Court and the construction next to ACAC, we walked straight ahead past the old factory. It's the building where a couple summers ago the homegrown circus entertained. The gate was open which may not always be the case. Once past the factory there's a hill, but the restaurant is in sight by then. A well-lit sidewalk and stairs would certainly help make Al Dente and Al Hamraa more accessible to downtown strollers or those set on making this a walkable city.

Al Hamraa opened two months ago, as the sister restaurant to Al Dente, which has been around for six years (formerly on the downtown mall). Spacious and with a huge painting of an odalisque above the bar, it has amazing atmosphere. With my only point of reference the movie Casablanca, the decor feels morrocan. There are a number of cocktails and martinis to choose from. I opted for the tea, mint, cointreau, rum concoction. It was stiff but good.

The food is utensil optional. I saw some other diners with spoons but they have to be requested. My only other experience with this way of dining was ethiopian and there you have the spongy bread to sop everything up with. This was much messier. We tried the quail with lentils, chicken, and whole trout. There is also rabbit and goat. I don't think you can go wrong. Everything was excellent. At intervals there was a belly dancer. She looked like a performer from the bygone circus mentioned above. A pot of mint tea was a great way to finish the meal.

The restaurant's Myspace page.
Ix Building
(434) 295-9922

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