So after scanning the scarce entries for this new-ish restaurant here on the boards, the positive reviews from the Sun and FFWD Weekly convinced us to give it a try last night. As background, Santorini is our favourite Greek place in the city (can't beat that roast lamb), with Plaka coming in second.
I believe that an Indian restaurant used to occupy the same space on Centre Street and about 21st Avenue NW. The banner is not only plain, it seems downright unappealing to the average consumer - "Calypso Taverna : Greek Dishes, Steak, Pasta". Now right away that says to me that this place could be one of those all-in-one type of Greek places, rather than an authentic experience.
The decor is nice and simple inside, dark wood floors and cozy booths. Nothing extravagant, but simple and practical. Our server was superb all night - we believe that it's a husband and wife combo that cooks and serves respectively, and the family feel of the operation can be felt throughout.
And the food, ahhhh the food. We started with a hummus and pita dip, and I myself ordered a bowl of fasolatha soup (bean soup which our server was DELIGHTED that I called by its Greek name instead of "bean soup"). Hey, that was one of my favourite dishes, dating back to when I lived in Vancouver and frequented Apollonia all the time. The server described how her husband made it fresh and it was very good.
Appies were a knockout - hummus was delicious and perfect consistency, and pita wedges were perfectly toasted and glazed with olive oil. Fasolatha was delicious - possibly the best I've had and an ENORMOUS portion! Great tomato base and lots of beans and flavour.
For the main, of course we tried the kleftiko (roasted lamb shoulder), which to me is the greatest indication of the competency of a Greek restaurant. Some places like Parthenon like to do a roasted leg of lamb for that which I definitely do not prefer, others like Santorini or Apollonia in Vancouver do it right by roasting the shoulder on the bone so it comes apart in hot and juicy strands that can be pulled with only a fork.
The kleftiko at Calypso is top-notch, on par with Santorini with a couple small differences. The portion seems a bit smaller, which is not a bad thing when coupled with the big appies we had. It is roasted on the bone and has a great crispy skin, well spiced and not overly greasy at all. Perfect amount of meat, and the rice and Greek potatoes were delicious.
So there you have it, and without further delay I will say this - Calypso is now our FAVOURITE Greek Restaurant in Calgary bar none. The service is friendly and genuine, the food is homemade and made with care and love (not a lot of salt or grease), and above all and what really pushes Calypso over the edge, the prices are FANTASTIC.
The hummus dip was $6 for a huge portion, the soup was $5 for a GIGANTIC portion, and the Kleftiko was $18. Yes, 18 dollars for a good portion of delicious roast lamb, 2 big Greek potatoes, rice, vegetables, AND a side Greek salad. Ridiculous value, and one that trumps Santorini in embarassing fashion.
In short, every dish was at least on par with (if not better) than those at Santorini, and the price point was significantly lower. A wonderful experience and I wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone to check out - let's keep these wonderful small family businesses going.
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