November 2006


Callaloo LogoWhen I entered Callaloo, I thought, this seems like a decent sort of place, but I wasn’t exactly drawn away by thoughts of the Caribbean from the decor. I’m thinking that much of the interior design in Callaloo came from the predecessor in the space, Cafe Cassisnis (or something like that,) a french bistro that always seemed to be closed when I wanted to go there (gee, I wonder why they bit it?) The atmosphere at Callaloo seemed a bit refined for what commonly passes as Caribbean here, either over the top Cuban like Pambiche (nothing refined there,) or aquatic, like Salvadore Molly’s, and its predecessor on Belmont, the often lamented Sweetwaters, a much loved place whose owners unfortunately didn’t believe in paying taxes. Thinking back to my time in Barbados and St. Lucia, however, many of those places just had normal restaurant decor, sometimes adapted from a previous restaurant, I don’t remember many of those places looking like an advertisement for Sea World either. Perhaps there’s a comment lurking in there somewhere about our stereotypicalization (yes, I’m making that word up, and I like it,) of other cultures, in this case the Caribbean, a place of a million cultures, British, French, Spanish, Dutch and African.

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Eleni's Philoxenia logoOur best attended Restaurant Roulette evening came to a close after approximately 2.5 hours. Our group of twelve were the last patrons in Philoxenia at closing. After this meal, I reached certain conclusions: a dinner with twelve people is a long dinner (that’s good,) a table with twelve people will probably receive so-so service, especially if waited on by primarily one server, and a table of twelve people will have an extremely difficult time figuring our their part of the bill, especially when the bill is all in Greek and the lighting is poor.

Although it wasn’t easy with such a long narrow table, I tried to keep track of much of the food that was ordered for this review. Some of the appetizer type items that came to my attention included: Dolmathakia (stuffed grape leaves (very leafy in this case;) marinated grilled calamari with lemon vinaigrette (seemingly the evening’s most enjoyed item;) celery root salad??, tiger prawns (more like kitty prawns;) and filo dough filled with a blend of Greek cheese and mint and spinach (there seemed to be a deep fried version of this and a braised version of this, I liked the braised version better.) For entrees people indulged in pasta with mussels, clams, prawns and scallops; pasta with salmon, nutmeg, cognac and cream tomato sauce; pasta with walnuts, pine nuts, garlic and dill; orzo with seasonal forest mushrooms, pancetta and sage; rack of lamb; a halibut special; mousakka; filo dough stuffed with lamb, tomato and cheese; and one inventive individual, Feta Me Filo, feta cheese baked in filo dough with Ouzo, served with honey (dinner and dessert, all in one!) There were three disappointed indivuduals at the table when orders were placed, two because all of the bunny had already hopped away, and one (me) because they had taken my favorite entree off of the menu, grilled chicken with red pepper yogurt sauce. We all survived though, and judging by all the sharing and the $614 bill, no one left the restaurant hungry.

Between engaging in as many conversations as possible, trying food, and keeping track of what was ordered, I really had no idea if people liked their food and the restaurant. Because of this, I solicited opinions of RR members to tell me what they thought. Here is what people kindly sent me:
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