Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Ghost of Restaurants Past

247 Smith Street
Brooklyn, NY
Couple with booze, one appetizer, and tip: $44

Having lived off the yuppie stops of the F train for 5 plus years now, I've had a chance to witness the culinary dreams of many disemboweled like the empty spaces they leave. The vicious cycle laid out by my least favorite celebrity chef is a depressing one, but it gives us all a chance to try new things without having to travel too far. The space that used to house the New American cuisine of Village 247 is now full of the rhythm of an island beat, and we hope that the beat goes on.

After three days of home cooking (without a dishwasher), Thursday evening is our breaking point, and we'll leave the cooking, plating, and serving to aspiring actors, actresses, and Rachael Flay wannabes. We are consumers, and given the option, we would do this every night, but unlike the only two celebrities that live in our neighborhood, we lack the financial backing that would allow this, which is fine, because then we don't take it for granted.

In the mood for something new, we decided to walk along our neighborhood's famous restaurant row and peruse the menus. French? No. Thai? No. Italian? No. Thai? No. Indian? No. Thai? No. Thai? No. Why are there so many damn Thai rest...wait a minute, what's this? Caribbean? This could be perfect. I'm a jerk for jerk, and for some reason I'm in the mood for a Bahama Mama. After a coin flip to decide whether or not Kelly's palate was ready for a Caribbean feast, we went in. The restaurant was empty up front, but the garden was full of patrons. Being a nice night, we decided to join them, and we were happy that the restauranteurs didn't use us a bait for other passers by.

The menu was not extensive, but when I think Caribbean, I think roti, jerk sauce, and patties, and Sapodilla has all three. They also serve their island concotions in glasses so tall that you can't even taste the booze. Left alone with our huge beverages, we scanned the menu and decided on the jerk tofu puffs for an appetizer, the roti with curry chicken and channa (chickpeas), and the roast duck with jerk barbecue sauce.

Then we waited. Fortunately for us, the atmosphere put us in such a relaxed mood that we felt like we were on vacation, so waiting was not really a point of contention. It's not so much that the waitstaff doesn't care about you as much as it is that the waitstaff is high, which isn't a bad thing. When the food did arrive, it wasn't cold, so maybe it just took a while in the kitchen. The tofu was great. It was spicy in that island spicy sort of way, subtle heat playing second fiddle to the texture and sweetness of the tofu. The menu claimed that it would be "bursting with flava," and boy was it ever.

Then we waited. Again, not a major issue, but something to consider if you're in a hurry. After a few more blocks of fifteen minutes, the main course arrived. Past roti experiences have led me to expect a Caribbean burrito full of curry goodness, but Sapodilla deconstructs the dish, dividing the roti into small wedges served alongside the curry, leaving you to make miniature Caribbean burritos, kind of like moo shu (sp?). This is a welcome change, because the worst part of the giant Caribbean burrito is the fact that any meat inside is left on the bone, so you have to pay close attention to what you're eating in order to keep your esophagus puncture-free. The roti on the side also gets points for presentation, but among all this good press, the unfortunate thing was that the chickpeas were undercooked. So even if you've taken all the meat off the bone, you still run the risk of chipping a tooth.

Laid in front of me was the roast duck which I could have sworn was a chicken. The dish came with rice and peas, but they were on the side, and while delicious, I was done with the meal, "duck" and all, after three bites. The presentation was lacking in this dish, and I was disappointed because it was the most expensive thing on the menu. That's what you get for being a jerk for jerk.

It was bedtime before we could order dessert, so instead, we got the check. Not surprisingly, it took a while even for the bill to arrive. I think they're working out the kinks, however, and would definitely go back for round two. The meal was very relaxing, and for a second I honestly thought that I would walk out onto Smith Street and find a beach. If for nothing else but to unwind, Sapodilla is a welcome change of pace that blew in from the tradewinds, and once the kinks are out, hopefully they'll be jammin'.

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