Restaurant Cesaria, Dorchester
Thanks again to chowhounds - My DC and I went Saturday night instead of the sure-to-be-crowded Ashmont Grill - The Cape Verdean live band was playing all sorts of tunes - a VERY lively room - it's clear that lots of people know each other in the Cape Verdean community - lots of intertable conversations and handshakes - and the general community feel and live music gave the place a sort of clubby appeal.
We started with apps of fried yuca and grilled octopus - the yuca was accompanied with a honey-mustard sauce reminiscent of the Hanover's pretzel pieces - yummy all the same. The octopus was great - nicely charred, thin sliced, relatively tender.
For dinner, my DC had the stewed goat, most of which went home as leftovers - I tried it - not particularly spicy, and the meat I felt could have been more tender, but overall a good flavor. I had the bifo mozambique, which was a steak, with eggs over hard on top, in a slightly spicy sauce (flecks of a chili?), accompanied by four shrimp and four big green mussels, a heap of scalloped potatoes AND a bowl of rice. It was all very satisfying - reminded me of the carbo load at Rincon Limeno, put Peru is on a different ocean, so go figure.
For drinks, DC started with a guava mojito (with "secret ingredients") - it was a little too sweet for my tastes but a lot of mint - I think it would be better appreciated in the summer heat - I attempted to order a caju mojito (with the same "secret ingredients") but ended up getting just a caju juice (my fault for not enunciating over the music) - It was very sweet but I ended up being happy with a non-alcoholic starter. We later shared a bottle of Benzo di Reserva (sp.?) for $18, which was a fine Portuguese red table wine that was I think similar in taste to a chianti. Dry, light and easily drinkable.
Our waitress was sweet and perfectly competent. If this restaurant were not in the depths of Dorchester, I think you'd see a lot more cross-over appeal - as it is, they make a very difficult room space-wise very welcome and I fully intend to return - It's got a vibe and warmth that is none too common in Boston.
I love this place, and not only because I can walk there from my house. The octopus is excellent as an app or a main course. I find it hard not to order the Feijoada everytime I'm there because it is so delicious. For those thinking of trying this place, definitely get there after 8pm. The place is totally empty until 8 or 9 at night and the music doesn't start until around 9pm.
You are so right about the vibe and the warmth. The food is good -- one visit didn't give me a chance to thoroughly explore the menu, so there could be gems I missed -- and it's different, a very intriguing mix of African and Portuguese elements. Add in the great atmosphere and wonderful Cape Verdean music and it adds up to an experience well-worth the trip to Dorchester.By the way, I've heard about another similar spot in the neighborhood -- I think the name is Restaurant Laura -- that is supposed to offer a comparable experience. Gotta check it out.