17 October 2012

Ali Baba Restaurant

While traveling to Chad for work, Ali Baba was recommended to me by a friend of a friend as a good place to check out in N'Djamena. My work colleagues and I went there for lunch our first day in the country. As we were a bit peckish (read: starving to death) after traveling since 4:45 in the morning before arriving to sweltering heat, immigration police, and meetings with implementing partners, I feel like by the time we finally headed to lunch 12 hours later we were less concerned with quality and more concerned with quickly. However, in my opinion, neither were lacking. As a large-ish group of nine arriving about one hour before they closed for the afternoon (15:30) they were quick with the drinks and friendly with the service. As a group of Americans and Kenyans with French skills ranging from none to rusty it was nice that the menu was offered in both French and English. 

I shared moutabel (~3500 CFA), an aubergine dip, and houmus (~3500 CFA), with a side of beef shawarma (~4000 CFA). With a "large" Castel beer (~2000 CFA) my portion of the bill was a hefty ~8500 CFA (about 16 USD at today's exchange rate); while pricy I left with take away box stuffed full of beef, dips, and pitas enough for leftovers for dinner and brunch. 

The beef shawarma was a pleasant surprise; I was expecting about six baby pitas stuffed full of meat, however a heaping plate of beef appeared and was surprisingly delicious. I also loved the moutabel. One of my colleagues commented that she thought the houmus was better than that at Cedars in Nairobi. Others ordered a variety of falafels and rice and meat dishes and left stuffed. A variety of condiments were availed; I particularly liked the Moutarde Forte that, as my colleague put it, "isn't hot but has a kick" while another group member's lips burned after sampling.

All in all, I would call lunch a success but think the price is a bit prohibitive for large group lunches for those on an aid worker salary.

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