For my birthday, my girlfriends took me to Calabash Bistro. Located on the corner of Carrall and East Hastings, this is a small restaurant with a big personality.
Where do I begin? Calabash has two floors – the top floor that has large booths and windows and an open kitchen concept, and the basement, that host a DJ Booth, a large bar and several tables. The decor is laid back and the walls are decorated with paintings by local artists. They feature live music and a DJ most nights, and they boast the largest collection of rum (+70 varieties) in any restaurant in Vancouver.
Also the service is amazing. From being greeted at the table to leaving the restaurant, we were treated like royalty. Drinks were always refilled, plates were cleared at lighting speed – our server was knowledgeable and his recommendations were perfect. We even had a visit from the pastry chef, who was glad we ordered his featured dessert. This was a great experience.
But let’s move on to the food –
We ordered four appetizers to start: The Fried Coconut Dumplings ($4), Doubles ($8) the Roti and Dip ($4), and the Jerk Fries ($4).
From all of those appetizers, the Doubles were my ultimate favourite – deep-fried bread stuffed with chick peas. Very, very tasty. The outside of the bread was crispy but the inside was gooey and warm. It wasn’t at all oily for a deep-fried dish.
Also the coconut dumplings were really good – but I felt they were too sweet to be served as an appetizer – we compared them to donut holes, as the consistency was thick and rich.
The Roti was more than delicious, it was perfect. I wasn’t sure about the dip – it was supposed to be a warm chicken curry dip but it didn’t have much of a flavour at all.
For our entrees we ordered the Vegetarian Platter ($15), the Seafood Steamer ($21), Ackee and Saltfish ($18) and the Crabcakes ($12).
I had the vegetarian platter – what a variety! Coconut dumplings, ginger plantains, vegetable curry, channa salad and rice and peas. It was a lot of food! Great value for what you spend. The curry was delicious, not to spicy, so I used some of their homemade hot sauce. Now be careful – that stuff is hot! a couple of dabs it was all I needed for taste buds heaven. All my dinner mates had nothing but the highest praise for their food. The conversation went from 60 to 0 as we became so engrossed in our dinners. Alice commented that having her seafood steamer with the mango sauce was a good choice, not too spicy for her. But she also said that her prawns were a bit on the over cooked side – a little chewy. I asked Sharon how her ackee and saltfish was, but she was too busy enjoying it to comment much – I did get a “this is so good” thought.
But the best, the most amazing dish came at the end – and it’s not even on the menu! The chef’s featured dessert Beanoffee – banana and coconut on a toffee crust with a spiced whipped cream. We thought we were too full, so we were planning to share a dessert. It didn’t pan out that way – we ended up ordering two beanoffes – this dessert was that good.
So please, pretty please, put it on the menu?
Check out Calabash Bistro on Twitter @CalabashBistro