Thursday, June 17, 2010

Calle Ocho

Today was the annual JP Morgan Corporate Challenge.  While my team was out there for the run/walk, I was stuck in the office on a conference call.  Luckily, the call ended in time for me to join the team for dinner at Calle Ocho.  This upper west side "Nuevo Latino" restaurant is the perfect place for big groups.  When you first walk in, you’re in the bar/lounge area.  This low-lit area is definitely the place to be if you’re just trying to chill for a bit.

Our group headed to the back.  The back has a large dining area.  I’ll get to the food in a moment, but first I must comment on the atmosphere.  Calle Ocho is LOUD. So if you’re looking for a quiet dinner, this is not the place.  The lounge area is a little quieter but I’m sure it gets wild as the night goes on.  The servers were definitely overwhelmed tonight.  It took them 10 – 15 minutes before they came to take our order.  Not cool.  Not cool at all.

Okay on to the food.  We ordered a number of appetizers and while I didn’t eat all of them, I tried to take notes on the comments from others.

The appetizer tray included bacon wrapped almond stuffed dates, Crispy calamari with Dominican honey cashews and organic sprout salad, Puerto Rican rum glazed shrimp with crispy onions and avocado salad, and Lobster filled empanadas.

I obviously didn’t mess with the bacon and truth is I don’t fancy dates so I don’t think I missed much.  The calamari was fantastic!  The honey made an already tasty treat even more delightful!

The lobster empanada was okay.  I loved the filling, but the crust didn’t really do it for me.

Next up our Gallitos arrived.  Beef and chicken Costa Rican soft tacos.  It is usually served with shrimp too so I was super bummed that there was no shrimp.  The chicken was incredible! So well seasoned and incredibly succulent I could have sworn it was cooked for a week!

At some point a few other things arrived.  I wasn’t able to photograph most of them but I did catch the Beet salad.

It was actually pretty good.  But as one of my coworkers said, “Best beet salad I’ve ever had, but with all these other things on the menu, why order beet salad?”  Agreed.  The plantain was also quite good.  They brought out sweet and green.  I only messed with the sweet though.

After stuffing our faces beyond belief, we still had the nerve to order entrees.  Most of my coworkers were smart enough to either split entrees or order small meals.  I on the other hand went with the Paella.  Obviously meant for two or at least one really hungry person. 

Look at that sucker! Huge right? I loved every bite.  Not that I took too many bites.  Truth is I only had a few then I called it a night.  I will say I was impressed that they were willing to make their Paella sans chorizo and instead they added chicken sausage.  Good work.

Calle Ocho has incredible food and an extremely lively atmosphere.  I highly recommend it for a fun high energy dining experience.

Hungry yet?

Calle Ocho on Urbanspoon

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