Executive chef Farid Zadi had no plans to open Café Livre's seafood tagine for dinner. But he's eating humble pie (probably French, Algerian or Spanish, because that is the sort of food he cooks). And the café holds its first dinner this Friday, Feb. 17. From then on, he'll serve dinner Fridays and Saturdays from 6 to 9 p.m.
Zadi says demand was so great for his Algerian specialties and French charcuterie, which have been only available for lunch, that he had no choice. "I was going to wait to find another location to open a full blown North African restaurant," he says, " but I already have a café that's all staffed and prepped and ready to go for dinner service. So why not start now?"
His tapas and paellas are big draws, too, and those will be on the dinner menu, which will change from week to week. "Spain and Algeria have a very long history of exchanging culinary influences, going back well before Moorish rule," Zadi says.
This weekend, Zadi will serve such tapas as gambas al ajillo, patatas bravas, warm clams escabeche and piquillo peppers stuffed with pine nuts, garlic and herbs. There will be two paellas -- chicken with preserved lemon and olives and paella Valenciana.
Duck confit alone has put Café Livre on the map -- Zadi says he sells 200 pounds a week -- and he'll serve it as duck confit pastilla.
This weekend's North African dishes will include a roast duck tagine with figs, almonds and honey, a seafood tagine, lamb mechoui and fish chermoula. And there will be Spanish and Algerian pastries and sweets for dessert.
Reservations are suggested, because Zadi wants to limit seating so that his dinners will have a chef's table feel.
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