Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Veg Out: Argan Moroccan Cuisine

When I think of Moroccan roughage, I expect hearty tajines, mounds of couscous, and savory pastries spun from phyllo. Platters meant for sharing, lots of eating with the hands, that kind of thing. I don't want it to be so authentic that I have to show up with a live chicken as an offering to the household. But I want it close.

This Argan, days old, is but a sandwich shop. There's a more traditional menu coming as it grows, but the vegetarian pickings make nice enough lunch grub. On the weekday that I visit, it meets some major criteria: the smells are instantaneously seductive. The interior is warm, clean, and inviting. Sandwiches are $6.99. Alright, I'll hang.

The Zaaluk sandwich boasts eggplant, but more importantly has a name that begs to be uttered with full effect. My loyalties bed with the smoother Baba Ghanouj, however, and I add on my choice of three toppings: tender, buttery potatoes, protein and fiber-rich white beans, and passable tomatoes. It's not the most exciting sandwich in the world, with so many mellow flavors, but the pita bread it comes on is no regular pocket. The fluffy flatbread is yellow and incredibly fresh-tasting, nothing like falafel-joint-caliber pitas.

I'm still let down that there are four sandwiches that are nearly the same thing and not much else to choose from. There's no mint tea, nothing dessert-like to exert extra dollars from us. If they can expand the selections quickly, I'll pop up again. Until then, I'm already bored.

Argan Moroccan Cuisine, 132 S. 17th St. (next to Bonte, easy to miss)

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