During the week of Passover, finding restaurants tends to be a lot more difficult then one would think. Chinese, Italian, Mediterranean, Japanese, are all immediately eliminated due to their bready, rice, pita loving base to most dishes. When I was asked to pick a restaurant for a family dinner, my options were very few. Eventually I settled on Peruvian inspired tapas. Lots of fish dishes and vegetables seemed to suffice.
Calle Ocho has amazing sangria and is known for their “all you can drink” brunches on the weekends. You have to make a reservation weeks in advance if you want to take part in the festive fun. My mom enjoyed a mojito sangria (awesome, I know!). I am a fan of red, so I went for the berry flavor, with raspberries and blueberries. It was a goblet full, and for $8, I’d say it was a steal.
After having been to Peru two years ago, my family developed a love for Ceviche. This fish dish is known for its variety and acidic flavors, since that’s how the fish is essentially “cooked.” We began the meal with the sampler of four, which we had selected.
We dove in like vultures. It was delicious, with the scallop and snapper versions being my favorite. I enjoyed the mix of avocado and mango with the fresh fish. Although the portion was not as large as we would have liked, we still each got a substantial portion to taste each of the four various types of preparation.
We ordered the rest of our meal, and the sea bass and beet salad came out next.
Since we were sharing, of course, my sister and I horded all of the beets. We are both weirdly obsessed. I especially have far too many stained shirts to attest to that. I always love the pairing of beets and goat cheese and love to see places try and put their unique spin on the traditional dish. Adding string beans to a sophisticated dish was playful, adding a nice little finishing crunch.
The sea bass was cooked perfectly, although I did not get any skin by the time the plate got passed to me. That’s my sister, Amanda’s favorite part of the fish. The sweet onions and peppers complimented the dish well.
They oddly replaced our dishes and utensils while the food was still arriving. It was a little bizarre and overly attentive. The salmon and shrimp arrived, but there was still no sign of our side dishes of Yuka and Plaintains (two of my favorites).
I love shrimp. And I love rum. So this shrimp dish was one of my favorites. But the portion was rather small, especially to allow for each of the 6 of us to have a bite. The salmon was delicious, especially the creamy mashed potatoes mixed with the sweet relish.
After we finished our main dishes, we still had not received the sides of Yuka and Plantains. My parents are not ones to argue, but this was kind of ridiculous. Finally, they came out. It was pretty good, not the best I’ve ever had. But the reward for our frustration resulted in an amazing dessert platter.
Since it was passover, we couldn’t enjoy the banana pudding or domino cakes, but we devoured the rest of the place. Literally just dove right in, silence across the whole table. I especially LOVED the flan and the chocolate mousse was definitely a close second. It was so great. Not something we would usually order, but it was so amazing and completely changed the subject of 16 Handles for post-dinner snack.
Over all, it was a good meal. A little over-priced and the service wasn’t great, but the food was really delicious.
Calle Ocho – 446 Columbus Ave – New York, NY