To be honest, before coming here, I didn't know anything about this place. I had just seen a picture of a colorful room decorated with Moroccan lamps and it looked nice. That was all it took to convince me and lure me to this restaurant in Sint-Gilles.
Walking through the street, it was easy to recognise the restaurant with its large windows and an abundance of Moroccan lamps. It was calm tonight, so we tried to pick the table offering the best view over the beautiful lanterns, but felt overwhelmed as they were everywhere. We sat down in the left corner facing the door and the counter. When opening a conversation with my table-companion, it was extremely difficult to keep his attention, as his stare kept on scanning the place with all its articles on display.
I must give it to him, there's a lot to look at. Actually, 'La Caravane Passe' used to be a shop which had been around for 30 years already. When the shop changed owners, the shop stayed, but the chaos typical of the Moroccan souks had to go. The bowls, tea glasses, tea cans, carpets, lamps, mirrors... were all given a more orderly place on the shelves against the wall or on the ceiling.
All the articles from this arts and crafts shop have been imported from Morocco and Egypt. And everything is for sale. You can even take home the table at which you've been sitting. No kidding. My boyfriend "who doesn't like shopping" didn't take the table home, but couldn't resist buying some colorful bowls.
There's a few advantages to this two-in-one concept. One is that since the shop is also a restaurant, the shop will stay open until late. Imagine that late at night, you realise you have forgotten to buy a present for your friend's birthday tomorrow... All shops have long closed (you gotta love Belgian closing times), but here, you can still shop for an original gift until 22:00-22:30. From the restaurants' perspective, the interior decor changes all the time along with the offer on sale. With every visit, you'll have something different to look at.
Of course, you don't need an excuse such as a forgotten birthday present to visit La Caravane Passe. Even when you don't need anything, you can come over and dine at La Caravane Passe. The menu isn't extensive, but the food is good and the portions are large. We started with a soup, in which the flavour of Moroccan spices was very strong. Then we had the couscous and the tajine, along with which came a bowl with sauce, a bowl with harissa and two more bowls with vegetables and salad. The food was presented in the colorful striped bowls that also stood on display on the shelves.
While holding a large tin can, the waiter poured us our mint tea with pride, then put the tea can on our table. A little later, he came back with a cute woollen knitwear with which he covered the handle so that we wouldn't burn our hands when refilling. It looked as if our tea can was wearing a knitted hat.
In the weekend, between 10:00 and 15:00, you can also have brunch at La Caravane Passe. Brunching here is a social happening, as it's all about sharing. All the food and drinks are put in the middle of the table, allowing everyone to take what he/she wants. Three different brunch options are available:
The brunches have become quite popular, so it is recommended to make a reservation beforehand.
As if managing a shop and a restaurant wasn't enough, La Caravane Passe also hosts different kind of events. Every third Thursday of the month, the tables are moved aside to make place for musicians playing Moroccan drums (for example). Check out their Facebook page to stay informed about the upcoming events.
Those who wish to immortalize their visit to this lovely lantern heaven can do so by taking some nice (or silly - it's up to you) pictures with the Photobox which you're free to use. Beware though that your picture will be published publicly on the La Caravane Pace Facebook page, so you might want to keep it decent.
And if you'd like to share your appreciation, or simply a memory of your travels to Morocco, you can do so in the guestbook, which is on the toilet. I'm serious. Grab one of the bits of chalk and leave a note on the chalkboard walls in the toilet.
One more fun fact about the toilet: Be sure to pay special attention to the toilet door as well, as it has been decorated with calligraphic writing by an artist. I thought it was just beautiful motives, but these are actually Arabic poems, in which the restaurants' name 'La Caravane Passe' figures as well... which is what I have been told. Please tell me if you've found it.