So, you’re turning twenty-six (or, “twenty-sexy” as we 1986 babies are currently dubbing it) and you want to have a birthday dinner somewhere on the island of Montreal that a) allows you to bring your own wine, b) can accommodate a group of 15-20 people, c) serves interesting/tasty/healthy cuisine, and d) has good ‘acoustics’ in which everyone can interact/hear one another across a big table without shouting over the clatter of plates, cutlery and other diners. Not only this, but you also want to be supplied with enough food to fill you right up to your theoretical brim, followed by the presence of a cushiony surface upon which everyone can recline/vaguely nap post-meal. And you also don’t want to wear your shoes while you eat, because fuck it, it’s your birthday.
Well, (you picky asshole, you) this is your lucky day: we recently discovered La Khaima (142 Fairmount West), a lovely and group-friendly Mauritanian restaurant in the heart of Mile End.
The décor and food are uniquely North African, with both small and large wooden tables surrounded by cushioned, sofa-like benches for guests. Shoes must be removed before setting foot into the group-dining area, located on a low platform at the centre of the restaurant. The ceiling is draped in a tent-like fashion with beautiful and very colourful fabrics; the walls are covered in designs and posters, including a huge map of Africa on the wall beside the dining-room-adjacent kitchen.
Nightly dinner menus are pre-set: for $25 each, huge plates of food are delivered in a family-dinner-style to each group, preceded by a daily soup. During our visit, the three main entrées consisted of one vegetarian dish, featuring chick peas, eggplant, cassava root and spices, and two meat dishes – one chicken, olive and onion dish, and another (very, very, very delicious) plate consisting of veal, lamb and dates, all serves on beds of couscous. A never-ending stream of food is delivered to the table as needed, and two bowls of pita bread are constantly refilled. Beautiful glass water jugs are located on each table, and wine that needs to be chilled can be kept in the fridge behind the counter. Service is fantastic – friends who arrive late do not necessarily miss out on dinner, as individual plates are made for all late-comers.
The quiet ambiance and the ease with which guests are able to fraternize with everyone around the table, all coupled with the unique menu really made it a perfect location for a birthday/anniversary/intimate celebration. Hit it up!
142 Fairmount West
BYOW; Reservations for large groups recommended.
~ Tyler Yank | Photo by Kirsty Beaton