Rick’s Café, Casablanca — Anything But Cliché

18033559_10211527589418539_2823059729969270957_n.jpgStriking a pose at Rick’s Cafe in Casablanca

On a recent trip to Paris, my daughter and I had a 24 layover in Casablanca, Morocco. Determined to make the most of our time in The Land of the Setting Sun, we opted to take a private tour of the former French colony and peruse the European art deco architecture and gorgeous Hassan II Mosque. Being a fan of classic Hollywood films, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have lunch at Rick’s Cafe — a lovely replica of the Warner Brother’s backlot piano bar made famous by the film Casablanca.

Prior to our adventurous day in western Morocco, I received a slew of unsolicited comments from naysayers eager to inform me the iconic film was not, in fact, filmed in Casablanca, but in Burbank, California. I just smiled politely and feigned admiration for their trivial knowledge while secretly pitying their day channel surfing while my daughter and I are galavanting around Africa playing tourist.

Rick’s Cafe in Casablanca was the brainchild of former American diplomat, Kathy Kriger. She restored the 1930’s mansion and courtyard in the port city to closely replicate the movie set. I smiled from ear to ear as we walked through the door into a time machine of nostalgia. Palm trees, waiters in traditional Moroccan clothing, and of course the infamous piano in the corner greeted us with such ambiance, I expected Sam to start tickling the ivories at any moment.

p1010972Interior Rick’s Cafe

The curved, white-washed doorways and archways were trimmed by potted palm trees and traditional Moroccan wood carvings. Because we were there during the day, we missed the live music offered Tuesday-Sunday. However, we were assured the piano player entertains guests with ‘As Time Goes’ every evening.

18679167_10211829672010415_1357326774_n.jpgKir Royals

The lunch menu was a fusion of seafood and contemporary flavors. We sat at the bar and ordered Kir Royals with a delicious appetizer of fried goat cheese drizzled with honey and sprinkled with lavender flowers. Just for fun, we posed with one of the fancy cigars kept behind the bar for discerning customers. 

18644307_10211829671690407_423663610_nGoat cheese with honey drizzle and lavender flowers

Call me cliché if you wish, but our visit to Rick’s Cafe was one of the highlights of our whirlwind venture to Casablanca. And speaking of cliché — “Here’s looking at you kid.”