We had to go to the Home Depot in Dorchester the other day (did I mention Home Depot is evil? But I won't go into it here) and since we're usually not in that area, I checked the Chowhound board for places to eat. I found a few recs for Restaurante Cesaria from about a year ago and decided to check it out.
The room is full of warm, bright colors. It has one red brick wall and the others painted yellow, with a mural in the background. There are booths on one side, tables for two on the other, and larger tables in the middle, so you could go with your family or on a night out. Only one other table was occupied when we arrived at 8 p.m., but it filled up a little bit more by the time we left. It seemed like most people there were from the neighborhood.
The restaurant serves Cape Verdean food, which I haven't had before. The posts I read recommended the katchupada, a traditional dish with hominy, pork, and beans, and the polvo grelhada, or grilled octopus. We ordered the octopus as an appetizer and two entrees, cabritadas (goat stew) and rabbit stew, a special that night.
Bread and butter arrived first. The bread was fine -- it was served hot, and looked and tasted like those frozen rolls you get at the supermarket. Then the grilled octopus came out. This was our favorite dish. The octopus was firm but tender, not rubbery at all, and served with a tomato and pepper salsa. It was a little too salty, so I'm glad we didn't get it as a main dish. After what seemed like a long wait, we received our entrees. The goat stew came in a thin tomato-based sauce. It had a mellow flavor from the large chunks of yucca. It wasn't as gamy as goat meat usually is (although I like that taste). I liked the rabbit stew better -- the meat fell right off the bone and tasted strongly of wine. The rabbit was served with fries as well as rice and beans, which was probably unnecessary, but I'll never complain about good fries.
Even though the service had only been passable the rest of the night -- I emptied my water glass during the appetizer and it didn't get refilled until much later, when they caught me drinking out of my husband's glass -- three different people came up and asked if we were sure we didn't want dessert. I felt like they were trying to guilt us into it, since they obviously didn't have tons of business. Actually, I did feel a little guilty. But we weren't that hungry and the desserts didn't sound very appetizing -- a very all-American menu of cake and ice cream, none of which sounded like it was made at the restaurant.
Overall, the food was quite good, with flavors we weren't used to. The service was polite, but not all that attentive -- it didn't bother me that much, since it's a casual place and it's easy to get a hold of someone. Considering the quality of food, it's really inexpensive -- our meal, with an appetizer, two entrees, and a beer, came to $32 before the tip. I would recommend making a trip out there, particularly if you haven't had Cape Verdean food before. We plan to go back with some friends and sample more of the menu.