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Kallaloo (SEA)

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I tried this pan-carribbean place in Columbia City last night and was suprisingly impressed. Although it is a short walk from my homebase, I had hesitated based on mixed reviews from Yelp (though many of the negatives appeared driven by anecdotes of neglgectful service, which I usually don't worry about too much), and the menu, which still contains several continental/northwest-ish dishes (e.g. halibut with garlic) which seem pretty far from my understanding of seriously authentic Trinidadian, Jamaican, or other island fare.

The service was very good, actually. The owner, who is from Trinidad, explained in careful detail the origins of each of the more interesting entrees. I thought the curried crab and dumplings was great (a Tobagan dish, she said). Starchy lumps akin to oversize gnocci sponged up the rich coconut curry, which, if it was made from Grace brand cakey powder, could have fooled me. My wife had the vegetable plate of plantains, black beans-n-rice, and callaloo, the creamy texture of the latter was especially interesting (my first time with this leaf of the cassava plant). The only jab might be, as elsewhere, a slight shortage of heat. If that is desired, request the jar of fairly explosive scotch bonnett table sauce (more like paste), that she handed over with a grave warning.

Kallaloo has a long drink selection, including the cutesy-named "ting with a sting". Ting is like squirt, so when you add white rum the result is more than a little like something I might have furtively downed before a high school dance. Regardless, I like that they have some of the carib beverage obscura (would like to also see some housemade peanut punch (dope!) and "front end lifter", if I didn't overlook them). I wanted to try "Grace's rum punch" but she was out of it.

Total price was decent at just under $40. Great digs with wide open windows overlooking the scene at Ferdinand and Rainier on a nice evening; reggae; pastels and photos of island life. Will definitely return for the Guyanese pepper pot.

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  1. I love the Christophene gratin and always order two of them! Their red beans and rice is tasty (although not NOLA style, so my bf isn't always pleased with them) and the callalo is good. The crab/dumplings is really really tasty and really really messy. Most of the other food I've had there was okay - dry fried chicken, okay pork chop, etc. The service can be dreadful at times and the place gets LOUD when they have big noisy groups or live music. But the Christophene makes up for it all!

    Also, I am not sure that their callaloo uses cassava leaves - they taste like taro leaves to me, and I think taro leaves may be more common for callaloo...

    2 Replies
    1. re: akq

      My recollection is unclear on what she said about cassava or taro leaves.

      1. re: equinoise

        Well, whichever it is, it's tasty. Try the Christophene next time!