Joann had never had Moroccan food, so when she asked us for a restaurant suggestion, Keith almost immediately brought up Tangierino. He and I hadn’t been to the Charlestown restaurant in a while, and we remembered it as a fun spot to go with out-of-town guests.
The aesthetics of Tangierino haven’t changed; it’s still done up with jewel tones, with semi-sheer draperies dividing the main floor into intimate sitting areas furnished with inlaid tables and plush, poufy chairs and settees. While the décor is pretty, though in an overly theme-y sort of way, I’ve now decided that it’s in fact quite impractical. We were seated adjacent to the hookah bar, at visually interesting but ultimately uncomfortable table/daybed combo. The table was of an unusual height — more for coffee than for dining — and its legs were so wide and cumbersome that both Joann and I had to clamber over the daybed’s arms in order to sit down. I had to sit cross-legged on the daybed, feeling very rude in doing so, because the table was so low I couldn’t get my legs underneath.
Tangierino’s menu is split in such a way that the diner is presented with both authentic and contemporary choices of appetizers and entrées. In my past visits, I’ve tended to stick solely with the more traditional plates, and this time was no exception.
For my starter, I went with a dish I’ve always enjoyed: chicken b’stila — a chicken and toasted almond mixture wrapped in phyllo, and served with a minted yogurt sauce ($10.00). As I mentioned earlier, I hadn’t been to Tangierino in several months (if not a year) but my memory of the b’stila’s appearance did not match up with what I was served. The b’stila has some sweetness to it as it is, so I was very surprised that my plate was fully swathed in powdered sugar. I had to scrape as much off as I could with the flat of my knife. Aside from that, the b’stila was rich and flavorful, with hints of underlying spice — tasting as lovely as I remembered, which made me wonder what the superfluous sugar was for.
As always, I was torn between a few entrée options; I decided to balance the sweetness of the b’stila with the simplicity of the seven vegetable couscous ($17.00). On my last visit to Tangierino, a friend ordered the same couscous and raved about it so much that I stole a few bites off of her plate. As I recall, it was zesty and tasty, studded throughout with savory roasted vegetables. I thought it would be a perfect match to the b’stila.
I couldn’t have been more mistaken.
The couscous was so bland and boring that I can’t even bring myself to describe it. All I can say is that I can’t remember being as disappointed with one of my entrée choices in a long while. As I ate, I remember instead longing for a couscous dish that I myself frequently make — how terrible is that, wishing you were eating in your own kitchen instead of at a restaurant? I had never felt that way before, and it made me really sad.
Maybe others have better luck with main courses at Tangierino. I hope so.
83 Main Street
Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129