There is something irresistible to the curious about a restaurant's managing to stay in business without any visible patronage. Take, for example, Don Eduardo's--an Ave legend in the U District that finally closed this year after an inexplicably long period in which it was open but perpetually empty.
Kasbah, in Crown Hill, is another. I lived down the street from this curiosity for a year and a half and never saw a single sign of life, except the turning on and off of lights. I can only assume that the staff, at the very least, must have come and gone at some point in the day, but I never witnessed a living soul walking through the doors. Not that I was running constant surveillance; this is merely passing information. The first time I ever entered Kasbah myself was just recently, when my curiosity finally got the best of me and I decided to have Moroccan food for dinner.
Walking in the door, I was greeted by a hostess in a long robe (out from which peaked jeans and sneakers), and directed into "the tent room," a dining area to the left of the entrance, far more ornately decorated than the rest of the restaurant, which appears to be closed. (At least it was empty and quiet.) Two or three parties were in the tent room, seated on cushions at low tables underneath sweeping ceiling hangings. Glad to see this, as it removed some of the mythical air of the restaurant, and made enjoying the evening possible.
Kasbah features traditional Moroccan-restaurant decor all around; the lights, in particular, are beautiful. The tables are etched brass, low in the center and high on the sides, and large enough to fit multiple entrees comfortably--fortunate, since the simplest, most economically logical options to select from the menu are three- and five-course meals, the latter called the D'yaffa Feast.
There is no opportunity to complain about service here. Servers are attentive, and the owner surfaces immediately to talk with anyone should there be any concerns. Everyone is friendly and focused on providing an excellent customer experience. Water glasses stay full, food arrives with surprising quickness, and empty plates are whisked away as soon as they are free.
Not being new to North African cuisine, nor to Moroccan food itself, my verdict is unfortunately that while the service was excellent, the food was just OK. All the classic dishes were there, and the classic sauces and seasonings were in use, but the excitement that comes from fresh ingredients and exotic spices was middling to none.
Seattle has no shortage of similar restaurants, and Kasbah honestly provides no reason to select it over another. Unless you are looking for a dining experience that is quiet and uncrowded, in which case this would be a perfect option.
Kasbah is located at 1471 N.W. 85th St., on the edge of Ballard, and is open Tuesday-Sunday from 5-10 p.m.