Total Bill: $140 for two
Calliope has little to do with actual calliopes, big locomotive whistle-like instruments or the muse of poetry in Greek mythology. But in the dead of winter here in New York, it does transport you to one of those cobblestone sidewalks in Europe strewn with cozy brasseries.
The atmosphere takes you there first, to a point where you take sitting just inches away from the neighboring table as part of its charm.
The food completes the transition, simple, but with unbridled flavors that pay a no-shame homage to butter.
The meal started with a bang, peppery radishes to go with your bread basket, soon followed by our appetizer of luscious sea urchin toast. It tops the version at Aldea that I loved so much, not only because the plump sliver of uni was more generously portioned, but how the toast underneath is at just the right warmth to melt it ever so slightly.
Jay’s halibut was silky smooth, sunk in a bed of romesco toast, crunchy even when drowning in a juicy red-pepper paste.
Surprisingly, it was my rabbit pappardelle that ended up on the restrained end, and I wish they would have kept more of its inherent gamey taste instead of boiling it to be almost chicken-like. This dish got some rave reviews among critics, but it was relatively one-noted especially in the context of everything else we ordered.
The lemon tart dessert followed the theme. Mouthwateringly tart and tangy, accentuated by how icy they serve it.
You’ll walk away having taken in a heavy meal, but a thoughtfully crafted one makes the punches of salt and spice non-gratuitous. By a margin, this goes in my books as one to revisit.