To some people, bad service is always bad. To others, like me, bad service can be charming. It is a chowhound platitude that what some consider "bad" service in the United States would not always be considered bad service in parts of the world with different customs from our own. At least, this is what I always tell my wife when we go to "authentic" Mexican restaurants with incredibly "leisurely" service.
Anyhow, tonight's service at Restaurante Cesaria (which is not Mexican), in Dorchester, was wholly Un-American. And, I loved it!
The wine list is nothing but Portuguese wines. A very short list that still manages to include seven (yes seven!) Vinho Verdes, including numerous quality Portuguese reds. In an odd peculiairity that made me wonder whether our waitress was making a mistake, we were told that every wine by the bottle was also available by the glasss - for $4.50. That's right. A glass from a 6 dollar bottle of vinho verde cost the same as a glass of $40 bottle of Dao Reserva. We took full advantadge. The only problem was that our wine typcially came literally (no hyperbole) 15 minutes after we ordered it -- even though the place was not crowded and the wine was literally 20 feet from where we were sitting. Odd.
But, to the point: the food! Three dishes. Three winners.
When I go to a sushi restuarant, I invariably find myself envying every plate that goes by. Somehow, no matter how creatively I order, it never looks as good as the plates that fly by towards other tables (Clio sashimi bar excluded). The reverse was true at Cesaria tonight. We ordered three winners, and the plates that went by to other tables frankly didn't look as appetizing. Our dishes:
Our appetizer was called simply "Quails". Two deep fried quails with five or six green olives as the only garnish. The quails were delicious. I often find them to be the crabs of the poultry world. Lots of work. But, the tiny morsles of delicious meat were worth it. Especially when prepared as well as at Cesaria.
Two entrees. First, grilled octopus. This is octopus for hard-core octopus lovers. HUGE thick pieces, including what looked like the head. Once we realized that much of the delicious vinegary sauce was hiding under the perfectly charred octopus, we scooped it on top, and found oursleves in octopus heaven. Delicious.
Second entree: Katchupada. A pork and hominy stew I had never heard of. EXCELLENT! It looked like a fairly dreary stew that wouldn't distinguish itself from a thick split pea and ham soup. But, wow, were the looks deceiving! A brilliant saltiness from perhaps lardon or bacon. Melt-on-your-fork pork. And vibrant flavors that belied the dreary looks of the stew. A special dish, indeed. I can't wait to return to try the refried version, served with fried eggs and chorizo.
Incidentally, the place is beautiful. And, as we were leaving, a band was setting up, and some regulars were rolling in for the show. Next time, we'll stay for the music!
Incidentally, I should have mentioned this up front, but Cesaria is a Cape Verdean restaurant (similar to Portuguese) run by Cape Verdeans.