44 Main Street
So I’m sitting in Northampton in a small café and I am stuffed. I mean I am so full it would be a bad idea to move. Since there are people waiting for my table I get up anyway even though the waistline of my jeans is protesting loudly, very loudly. I have just finished a large dinner that cost less than 10 bucks. It was a swordfish steak, vegetables, and rice, and well worth it. I went and ate at the Amanouz Café. It is my first meal at Amanouz but it will definitely not be my last.
The Amanouz Café is a Moroccan and Middle Eastern restaurant with a selection of vegetarian dishes, soup and fish that are moderately priced for their portions. It is located on the PVTA bus route or Route 9, on the main strip of Northampton. The owner, Abid Assab is very proud of his restaurant, “Everything is made by hand, and my favorites vary depending on the day.” It is one of the only Moroccan and Middle Eastern eateries in the area and has been open for eight years. The café has a blue awning with white writing, Amanouz Café, on it. Though seating is limited it is comfortable and has a distinct decor. There are intricate patterns and deep colors all over the cafe that remind you of the Middle East. My friend, Gretchen, had seen the awning before and had suggested we try it out, I was all for it.
Walking through the set of two doors, most likely because of the winter chill here most of the year, Gretchen and I found ourselves in a slightly cramped café. When you walk in on both sides of the room there are tables, rather closely, packed inside with a long black rug down the center aisle. Farther back is a counter with the register on it and the kitchen, where some enticing smells were creeping out to the door, we went closer eagerly. The tea sets behind the register gave off the exotic feel, since they are decorated intricately and very small
sized cups, which is the customary Middle Eastern way.
Inside the counter sat the dessert options which all looked so tasty. To the left of the register was a drink cooler that held sodas, Snapple, and other assorted beverages. The menu sits above the head of the cashier and looks like it is printed on a chalk board which seemed pretty cool. Off to the right before the register/counter area is the silverware and napkins, it is also where the dirty dishes are placed after a meal. There is a nook that sits next to the entrance where there are extra seats that look out onto the street. The tables are placed against the walls so that servers can bring out the food more easily without having to weave their way through tables. There are also tables outside when it’s warm.
When we ordered there were certain dishes specifically advertised on the wall to the right of the register. Colored pieces of construction paper that told us what the different choices were. It was easier than trying to pick something off the large menu. The pieces of paper described the meal and priced each one, there were drawings as well on each piece of paper to add some entertainment. I chose my swordfish dinner because of the cute drawing on the wall. Other options like lamb, lentil soup, and lemon chicken were also advertised. When we ordered the cashier asked for our names so that a server could bring out our food, we paid after ordering.
We sat and talked comfortably while we waited for our food. We ordered an appetizer which came out quickly and we ate it happily, hummus and pita. Our food was brought out to us within 15 minutes. Funny thing though was when the appetizer came out a very cute guy was carrying it. He called Gretchen’s name and I think her eyes actually popped, mine did to but that was because of the food.
One thing to remember, the silverware does not come on the tables; the patrons have to get the silverware themselves which is located close to the register. We ate hungrily and found ourselves rather stuffed before finishing our meal. Through out the meal I kept on bugging Gretchen to ask the blonde waiter for his number, he had smiled at her a few times, “what’s the harm in asking,” I said. The only reply I got was a spoonful of rice thrown my way. She never did ask for his number and would die of embarrassment if she knew I was writing this, I won’t tell her if you won’t.
The flavors of the meal were wonderful like spicy pepper and cilantro, which is a green leafy spice often added to give food more flavor, usually added to salsa or Indian food. If you have any allergies make sure to ask what is in the meal you are interested in before ordering. The entire menu has no dairy, yeah that’s right; no cheese no yogurt, nothing. It is very lactose intolerant friendly.
I also had bought baklava which is a honey and pistachio pastry that was delicious, sticky, but good. It was all too much food for the both of us. We asked for a carton to take home the food and bussed our table so that it was clean for other incoming patrons to use. Most restaurants clean the tables for you but this café seemed to like the idea of do it yourself. Gretchen and I were fine with that, as long as I don’t actually have to do the dishes I am more than happy to clean up after myself.
The café was noisy with more people and seemed more crowded as we left with people waiting around aimlessly for someone to leave so that they could take their spot. As we left Gretchen said, “We definitely need to come back here, at least when I have more money to spend on good food for leftovers.” I agreed with her and we went on our way. It was such a fast meal but a wonderful time, I would recommend checking it out for yourselves.