Editor's note: Whether you love it or hate it, save up your appetite all week or avoid it at all costs, there's no denying that brunch is an essential part of the New York dining world. Here with our new column "The Brunch Dish" is Serious Eats correspondent Nikki Goldstein. Each week, she'll put the spotlight on one great brunch plate around town. Please welcome Nikki!
During my travels to Morocco, I'd start each day with freshly baked semolina bread and homemade citrus jams that were served at our riads--like American Bed & Breakfasts, only decked out with incredible Moorish tiles and fountains. Though Casaville, a Moroccan-inspired restaurant just north of Murray Hill, stays away from the semolina flatbread, it recreates many other staples with impressive authenticity. So I wasn't surprised to find one of my street food favorites converted into a brunch dish here.
The Merguez Sandwich is just what it sounds like--a crunchy baguette stuffed with mildly spicy Merguez sausage that's sourced from a specialty provider in Queens. There's little else on the sandwich, but its secret is a gentle coat of homemade tomato sauce that moistens the bread and infuses it with the flavors of paprika and cilantro, giving each bite mysterious layers of flavor. It's unfairly simple, yet a perfect representation of what you'd get abroad. (Though, granted, in Morocco you'd get it for a tenth of the price, even though Casaville is by no means a pricey joint).
Casaville brunch runs $14.95 for two drinks, fruit salad, and an entrée, which is a great deal by any standards. Other entrée highlights include a meatball tagine topped with a fried egg--it uses the same sauce as the sandwich, but to even greater effect.
Use your leftover budget for a side order of the briwatts, or shredded chicken with cumin, cinnamon, and powdered sugar wrapped in phyllo. It's a smart variation on the pastilla, a sweet-and-savory squab dish that's as much of a must-try in Morocco as it is here.
Now if only there was some semolina bread to go with it all--then we'd really be talking.