Cafe Carthage is a small & intimate restaurant that offers a unique Tunisian / French menu.
Proprietors brothers Zico and Mohammed Draoui.
We walked in without reservations and were accommodated quickly and hospitably in a nearly full restaurant without any "attitude".
We ordered mussels and were blown away as by the plump, juicy, delectably spiced specimens that arrived. The rest of the food was also delicious (lamb & chicken dishes) but by the time the mains arrived we were more immersed in each other and the atmosphere than the food. Aaaah, a truly romantic dinner, at last!
The server was attentive, was fully awake, brought what we needed and did not intrude on our privacy, which was perfect.
It was a little dark in there but all the better to play footsies under the table.
The menu is a little limited but it beat the eggs and bacon that was in our fridge that night!
we'll go back and if it's half as good as the first time, we'll go back again! I think it was very good value but then again my honey never lets me look at the bill... so I don't really know for sure.
Tiny Carthage Cafe has built up a loyal clientele these last few years, offering classic French cuisine along side some honestly prepared Tunisian fare. Commercial Drive doesnt have any other resteraunts doing French/Euro classics such as Coquille St Jaques or Chicken Zurichois so it seems to fill a niche. Homesick expats find solace in the hearty cous cous or tangine main dishes.
There are a half dozen mussel recipes to choose from. Splitting one of these is a wise decision. Under direction from our knowledgable and professional server we opted for a simple variation..pure French: Scallions, white wine and whole cream. They were superb. Served with baguette and perfectly executed french fries, the plump shellfish were among the finest I've ever had. An generous portion made it an absolute steal for $12
Next up, the mains. My friend chose one of 3 daily specials, the aforementioned Chicken Zurichois. Classic French bistro style, heavy on the whole cream and white wine reduction. Spiked with grainy mustard, the dish satisfied. It was served with roast potato and some mixed vegetables. My quibble would be the $25 price tag. At least $5 high. Note: Dinner specials here are pricey from what I can see. My cous cous dish was dubbed The Carthage. The dish consisted of a lamb shank, some chicken breast,Merguez sausage,(forgive my spelling!) combined with some root vegetables, some light tomato sauce served over couus cous and chickpeas. A monster portion that had me reeling halfway through. Sadly, I encounterd my arch-enemy...a turnip around this point. Phewy! Sorry, a personal problem and I digress. The dish is good value, incredibly filling. Best ordered after a day in the fields. We spilt a lovely and refreshing lemon sorbet for dessert.
Throughout the meal, our server was first class. Attentive, friendly but never pandering.
Turnip aside, I dig Carthage Cafe
The staff was friendly, and the food was overall pretty good. The chicken was a bit overdone (dry), but the couscous was complementary to my entree. The ambience was really cozy and nice although I'd have liked to have had the front door closed so the flies wouldn't come in. Would still love to go back.
What a great find! With it's decor, warm and professional service and delicious food...I felt I walked off Commercial Drive and into a quaint, romantic caffe somewhere in France. We ordered the mussels (as had many others in the room), followed by the seafood feature of the evening. The portions were generous and each dish overflowed with flavor. Our server, Tim, was a true professional - the perfect measure of knowledgeable, friendly, helpful and attentive while discretely being present. The menu is French/Tunisian. I will definitely be coming back here!
I have walked past here many times, and wondered how the food would be. This evening I was very hungry and in the mood for some lamb. So, after checking out the menu, I decided to give this place a try. The decor is very soothing and luxurious without seeming fussy. Dark woods, table linens and bevelled, squeaky clean glass! There is an excellent selection of wines, many available by the glass. I selected a glass of the featured spanish white, which was excellent and well able to stand up to the lamb that I ordered. This was served 'Tunisian' style, grilled, with a minted sauce that was very toothsome. My chops were a tiny bit overdone (I had requested medium rare) but the lamb was so tender I did not mind. I am really picky about meats when dining out and I was not disappointed, this was a little crispy/crunchy on the outside and pink inside and seasoned just right. And the frites were awesome! I know Belgian Frites is just a few doors down (and they do great fries! very very rich though) but Cafe Carthage could give them a run for their money. I also enjoyed the tunisian salad, which was a simple herbed blend of cucumber and peppers. I definitely want to come back and check out the moules frites and other dishes.
My husband and I went to Carthage for dinner on a Saturday night and as expected, it was fantastic! This was not our first visit to Carthage - we had gone there for lunch in the summer. We shared the prawns for our appetizer and it was A-MAZING! The sauce was to die for!
We both ordered moules frites for our entree. My husband had the El Atlas and I had the Provencal. Both were good, although I liked mine better. On our previous visit, I had the Poulette and my husband had the Carthago and those were really good too. I would rate Carthago as the best one as it was most flavourful, followed by Poulette and Provencal. The mussels were super plum and the fries are sooo fresh and yummy. They offered a side of ketchup or mayo - always go for mayo as it is made in house.
For dessert, we shared the creme brule and I had moroccan mint tea and my husband had the Tunisian coffee. I'm glad we tried it. The tea was great - better than Tetley's for sure. The Tunisian coffee is something worth trying as it is something very different from what north americans are used too. It is grainy but boosting with flavour.
The service was excellent. Our server (I believe her name was Veronica) was amazing as she was very knowledgeable and attentive. It was a very busy night for them, but she made sure that we were very well taken care of.
Can't say enough good things about this place. Very highly recommended!
I booked our Valentine's Day dinner roughly a week ago after reading encouraging reviews of Cafe Carthage. What a shame. Where to begin...
I received a confirmation call for the dinner approximately five hours before our scheduled reservation. It wasn't simply a reminder though, the message requested a call back. Judging by the wait when we arrived, they had overbooked and were doing some same-day backpedaling. I can't imagine if we hadn't checked our messages mid-way through the day.
We were sat half an hour late, and our drink order wasn't taken for twenty minutes after that. When the wine arrived (a nice little Pinot Grigio), it was with big Merlot glasses and sans ice-bucket. The first course arrived an hour and a half after our initial reservation time. The service improved noticeably after that, as they'd finished their final seating of the evening.
Dinner itself was quite nice. The butternut squash soup was quite tasty, with a bit of a clam chowder flavour to it. For the salad course: my girlfriend had a type of spring roll with a cucumber, onion and tomato salad which she quite liked, and I opted for the California salad, a standard citrus-vinaigrette mixed green salad with a couple token slices of strawberry. For mains, I had the filet mignon, done perfectly rare as requested, with a nice mushroom gravy. The missus had the stuffed chicken breast, which she enjoyed though it had way too much fennel in it. The sides were scalloped potatoes, snap peas and green beans, all fine. Desserts were a mixed bag: my girlfriend loved her creme brulee, but my cheesecake was the low-point of the meal. It was a small piece of plain cheesecake, nothing at all to interest anyone. Not even a sprig of mint to garnish.
As for the ambiance, the music was nice, the space was well-lit, but the floor plain was awful. The four tables near the entrance were constantly bumped into by servers and newly arrived guests. It's a small space, and I'm not sure they could do anything other than remove a couple tables, but based on the staffing levels that might not be a bad idea. Two servers and host for 16 tables didn't work. There was no sign of an owner or manager, and if we hadn't already spent 3.5 hours there we would have asked to speak to one at the end.
All in all, I'm sure the madness of Valentine's Day show the restaurant at its worst; nonetheless, we won't give it another shot any time soon.
I used to like this place but it went from really good to extremely bad. My last experience with this place was not enjoyable. The chicken Tagine ended up to be a rabbit Tagine (very dry) so I just notified the waiter about this, I ordered chicken, not rabbit. Well the waiter sayd it was simply impossible and then decided to avoid us. I happen to be very familiar with rabbit meat and I know those small bones when I see them. So yes, avoid this place at any cost. I must add that the food has become just bland.
My husband & I & some friends recently dined at Carthage Cafe. They are in the Entertainment Book so we thought we would use the card. First of all, our waitress had poor English skills & outlined the specials which we understood included soup & salad. We asked her numerous times to clarify that this was correct & she said yes. The food was average but overpriced. Once the bill came, she made up some rule that we couldn't use our ET card when having separate bills. Having had a book for years & being well aware of the rules, we disagreed with her. Also the bill was very high & they had charged us a la carte for 3 soup & salad items. The "special salad' was a whopping $13 a piece. A good restaurant would have taken at least a salad or two off of the bill in the name of customer service. Needless to say, no tip was forthcoming.
Although the food was average, the restaurant is very small, pompous & comes off as pretentious. It is located on the Drive, where cheap good eats are in abundance. I don't know how it has managed to survive this long as it was a very disappointing experience which will not be repeated by us.
That small restaurant was the worst experience I ever had in my whole life, I still can`t forget it, first they give us a menu but most of was not available, choices were limited to what they cooked that day, the service was in general poor for their prices and employees were rude, the food was decent, we spent too much time to get there, we only lost our time and money that night.
If you want well made food that largely sticks to the traditional and bypasses fusion nonsense, this is the place. I have eaten here several times and the food is consistently delicious. Some of my favorites include the Carthage Couscous and the Nicoise Salad, but everything on the menu is made to perfection. The service is likewise excellent. this is a great place to take a date, small intimate and truly satisfying. One of my absolute favorite restaurants in the city.
I love these types of places. Cozy, "quirky" personal service with really good real food.
There are some obvious "issues" that the cafe is still working on, but they only add to the place's charm.
It's a small space, but you don't feel crowded. One of those rooms that whisks you away to another time and place.
To start ordered the Carthage muscles in a cumin broth = amazing. Plump & juicy and the broth was o-so-flavourful. Dipping the complimentary French bread and frites in the broth worked quite well for me. mmmmmm good.
Shared the Chicken Tangine and Chicken Couscous. The tangine was lacking, but the homemade couscous was so good. Massive hunks of veggies were delicious and had the sense that this dish has been cooked the same way for generations. Hearty and wholesome. Great comfort food on a rainy evening.
The chicken was rather dry in both dishes which is the only reason the food got a solid rating and not an excellent.
I will definitely be returning though I probably will try everything but the chicken.