Rick's Café Casablanca
|Rick's Café Casablanca|
Rick's Café in 2011.
|Current owner(s)||The Usual Suspects S.A.|
|Street address||248, Boulevard Sour Jdid|
|Reservations||+212 522 27 42 07|
Rick’s Café Casablanca is a restaurant, bar and café located in the city of Casablanca, Morocco. Opened March 1, 2004, the place was designed to recreate the bar made famous by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the movie classic Casablanca. Set in an old courtyard-style mansion built against the walls of the Old Medina of Casablanca, the restaurant – piano bar is filled with architectural and decorative details reminiscent of the film: curved arches, a sculpted bar, balconies, balustrades as well as beaded and stencilled brass lighting and plants that cast luminous shadows on white walls. There is an authentic 1930’s Pleyel piano and As Time Goes By is a common request to the in-house pianist.
Owned by The Usual Suspects company, this Casablanca landmark is usually described as the real Rick’s Café, finally bringing the legendary “Gin Joint” of cinema fame to life in today’s Casablanca.
Architecture and décor
Rick’s Café Casablanca was developed by Kathy Kriger, a former American diplomat in Morocco. The restaurant is housed in a traditional Moroccan grand mansion with a central courtyard or a Riad, built in 1930. The land placement allows for three facades: a distinctive streetfront entrance with heavy wooden doors that depict that of the film; a port-oriented façade that looks to the Atlantic; and a narrow dead-end access which was the former main entrance but is now the service entrance.
Because of the age of the structure and proximity to the sea, the mansion was totally restored and renovated. American architect/designer Bill Willis conceived the decorative and architectural details which enhanced the existing arches and balustrades to evoke the film “Casablanca.” Intricate antique brass floor and table lamps with metal shades strung with beads give off dramatic lighting effects, and on each table rests a specially designed brass lamp with beaded shade designed by Bill Willis. Carved and inlaid wooden screens, tables and chairs from Syria add decorative touches reminiscent of the furniture in the film. In addition to the faithful rendering of the decoration in Casablanca, Rick’s Café today is full of tile and wood work representing Morocco’s craft industry. Fireplaces are of carved marble or painted tadelakt with intricate zellige tile patterns accenting the fireplaces and the risers of the central stairway. Tadelakt in muted colors cover walls throughout the restaurant, and the floors are set in hand made terra cotta tile.
Food selections at Rick’s Café takes advantage of Morocco’s abundance in seafood. The menu offers a wide selection of fish from the traditional Sole Meuniere to John Dory crusted with black pepper, white wine and thyme. Steaks, foie gras, goat cheese salad with fresh figs and an American Crab Louis are among the dinner selections. Rick’s Cheesecake and brownies figure on the dessert menu, along with more exotic presentations highlighting local fresh fruit. At lunch popular favorites  such as Chili Con Carne and American Hamburgers are available along with “the catch of the day” and a Moroccan tagine. The rooftop terrace barbecue, “The Pergola” offers a range of items from mixed grill to roasted game hen and swordfish steak.
Issam Chabaa plays piano nightly Tuesday through Sunday, a repertoire of standards reminiscent of the 40’s and 50’s, including classic French, Spanish and Brazilian songs along with American favorites such as Summertime, The Lady is a Tramp, Blue Moon and the inevitable As Time Goes By (several times a night). Sunday night is programmed for a Jam session where musicians passing through town, and local amateurs join Issam for jazz improvisation. Between sets and at lunch a soundtrack of compiled standards and big band sounds provides background music.
Reservations are recommended for dinner. The restaurant is open for lunch from 12:00 noon until 3 pm; for dinner from 6:30 pm until 1 am. Rick’s Café is open 7 days a week including the month of Ramadan and holidays.
- The New York Times. Travel Advisory A Casablanca Landmark Is Ready for Its Debut Feb 22, 2004
- Reuters. Gin joint of film fame lives on in Casablanca Feb 29, 2008
- ABC TV. Foreign Correspondent Postcard series 15 Episode 39
- Frommer's. Travel guide Frommer's review June 16, 2008
- The Independent. Travel 48 Hours In - Casablanca, Morocco Saturday, 5 May 2007
- BBC NEWS. World News Tuesday, 20 July 2004
- Bloomberg.com Muse Arts. Review Rick's Cafe Lures Bogart Fans With Steaks in Casablanca June 16, 2008