The Early Word: Panache Cafe, Moroccan on Avenue B

Merguez plate--with the bizarre addition of cold corn. The eggplant salad on the left is delicious, though.
Merguez plate--with the bizarre addition of cold corn. The eggplant salad on the left is delicious, though.

Panache Cafe is a recently opened Moroccan sandwich shop on Avenue B. More accurately, it's Moroccan-ish, since there are items like Caesar salad, Waldorf salad, and chicken fajita panini among the merguez, kabobs, eggplant salad, and carrots a la sharmoula. To drink, there's mint tea, either hot or cold, (enjoyably) tooth-achingly sweet.

The owners are very friendly, and speak more French than English. Stopping by for lunch, the place was nearly empty. Merguez sausages--which the menu says are homemade-- taste pleasantly lamby, but are underspiced and dry. (A request for hot sauce yielded Red Hot rather than harissa. Quelle horreur!) The zaalook (mashed, spiced eggplant salad) on the side was the best part of that plate--which also included weird cold corn and raw red cabbage. Kofta kabob is a much better choice, loose patties of juicy beef and lamb, garlicky and flavorful. Prices are fair, about $5 a sandwich, $8 a platter.

The vegetarian salads, like bakoula (spinach with preserved lemons and olives), beets in lemon and olive oil, and carrots a la sharmoula (carrots with olives, garlic, and paprika) look promising, worth a second visit.

182 Avenue B 212-904-0206


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