Folks, you are not activity to accept this, but I affirm it’s all true: There’s a vegan Casablanca tapas restaurant ambuscade in Prime 6, the absurd arrant steakhouse downtown.
Here’s the story: Prime 6 opened appropriate afore the Cool Bowl, in the above Rosa Mexicana/one time Chi-Chi’s amplitude on the bend of 6th and Hennepin. It seemed like a carbon archetype of Seven Steakhouse—Seven is on 7th street, so Prime 6 is on 6th street, get it? This was partly because it was opened by Youssef Darbaki, who was the aperture chef for the aboriginal seven years of Seven, and the card had a assertive familiarity—steaks, sushi, a colossal crabcake, you apperceive the drill. But then, article alluring happened: Last ages Chef Darbaki absitively to add a vegan card of his ancestors favorites from Casablanca, and folks, the aliment is spectacular.
Darbaki grew up in a ancestors with some abysmal restaurant and auberge access in Casablanca, Morocco, and he pursued two loves growing up: soccer and food. He was so acceptable at soccer, he was complex with the 1982 and 1986 World Cup teams out of Morocco, and accomplished soccer actuality in the Twin Cities for a accomplished agglomeration of schools and organizations, including St. Thomas and the Minnesota TwinStars. He was so acceptable at cooking, he went to Paris to alternation and concluded up affable for two and a bisected years for Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd, including on King Fahd’s clandestine alternation and two-story clandestine aeroplane with mini-casino. (Darbaki says to baker on a even in the 1980’s, you did a lot of par-cooking in advance. He recalls affable for a feast King Fahd threw in Monaco in account of Brooke Shields’ 18th birthday—if anyone in internet acreage can acquisition a account I’d be grateful!)
Anyhoo, afterwards bopping about World Cup soccer and affable for the stars and kings, Darbaki did what anyone would, and came to Minneapolis to accessible restaurants at the Hyatt on Nicollet Mall. And again like all of us, he never left! Because, who amid us would opt to adhere out with Brooke Shields and kings back we could advice out at a agitating bounded soccer pitch? No one, obviously, duh. Again he opened a agglomeration added restaurants, including Yvette, Bellanotte, South Beach, Seven, and now Prime 6, his aboriginal restaurant as an owner. Once he endemic the joint, he acquainted a yen to cull out some of his family’s acceptable recipes. He accomplished they were abundantly vegetarian, and calmly fabricated vegan, and back there are no vegan spots downtown—here we go!
I admired a few of the dishes with all my heart. Zaalouk, a Moroccan eggplant dip fabricated with broiled eggplant, garlic, harissa, tomato, broiled sesame oil, and beginning basil and cilantro, is off the archive delicious—roasty, firey, lively, tangy. I actively can’t bethink accepting a bigger eggplant bowl in the state, it’s amazing. (Darbaki told me one of the Saudi princesses was cool into it, too. And finally, anyone branch to Target Center to watch the Timberwolves can stop on the way to acquisition accepted arena with a absolute princess!) Spaghetti annihilate with ambrosial amazon booze and agrarian mushrooms was additionally berserk tasty.
What afraid me best were the dishes I’d tend to admit as avant-garde vegan innovations, like this spiced cashew candied potato bowl that Darbaki says is absolutely artlessly article abiding in acceptable Casablancan summertime cuisine—Casablanca actuality a above trading hub for basics including cashews, and spices including tamarind. I could not say abundant acceptable things about these altogether broiled blocks of candied potato and the coil of broiled basics with a sweet-and-spicy glaze. Darbaki additionally put a vegan adaptation of a Giant Crabcake on the menu. It’s fabricated with hearts-of-palm, and reader, this vegan adaptation is bigger than a abundant abounding real-crab cakes I’ve had in my day. But that’s not all! Because Prime 6 is a abounding account steakhouse with affair and wine, it’s the aboriginal Minnesota Casablanca-style vegan tapas restaurant you can get a acceptable Old Fashioned at, and the aboriginal one you can go to with your dad who alone eats bone-in ribeye, no amount how abundant you altercate with him.
That’s the news, folks! If you’re a vegan, go abutment a restaurant demography a action on your community. If you’re an omnivore dying for a Casablanca tapas restaurant to accessible downtown, assumption what, it did already and no one told you. (Darbaki says you can special-order Moroccan coffee with amber and atramentous pepper, it’s not on the card but he’ll accomplish it.) If you’ve been on a adventure to get your two-degrees-of-separation with Mike Tyson, Sylvester Stallone, and Brooke Shields, allocution to Darbaki about that 1980’s Monaco casino-and-private-jet King Fahd lifestyle, because that is nuts.
Prime 6, 609 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 612-540-3266, prime6mn.com
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