Calypso, Pompano Beach, Florida

I heard two statements I never expected to hear when Nancy and I went to Calypso, a seafood restaurant in Pompano Beach.

“That’s the best fish I’ve ever eaten.”

Thus Nancy during our dinner at Calypso.

“There are more important things than making money.”

Thus Chuck Tenosky,. the owner of Calypso, telling us why they are closed on Saturday and Sunday.  “The people here deserve a weekend.”   We had come on a Friday night and told Chuck (“We don’t use last names here”) that we liked it so much we planned to come back the next night.  The last time we liked a dish so much was in Playa Bonita, near Las Terrenas, in the Dominican Republic, where the dorade prepared by President Mitterand’s former chef was so good that we went back the next day and ordered the same dish.

We found Calypso, which is tucked into a small shopping center on Cypress Road thanks to CFByrne and others on Chowhound.  (Do you use Chowhound?  You should.)  It’s very popular, and a short wait is inevitable.  We ended up sitting at the bar.

Nancy had the blackened yellowtail snapper, and it was indeed spectacular.

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First, yellowtail snapper is really good in South Florida.  Along with Grouper, it should be your go-to fish in that neck of the woods.  Second, the seafood at Calypso is very fresh. Third, Calypso knows spices.  They have a variety of preparations, including  a number of jerk dishes.  Fourth, they know just when to stop cooking.  The result is really good food.

I had the blackened hogfish, possibly because my subconscious had recognized that I had not eaten pork in days; thus the trip to Little Havana for lunch the next day.   Also, I like hogfish, which I think is related to or a kind of snapper, with a somewhat firmer texture; and among my many quirks, I don’t like to order the same dish ordered by others with whom I’m dining.

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The hogfish was very good.  I can’t say it was the best fish I’ve ever eaten.  Pride of place there may go to the redfish crusted with crawfish I had at the Redfish Grill in New Orleans in 2006, but it was  delicious.  First rate.

The other dishes also were very good.   The black beans and the sliced cucumbers, here in a little sweet heat, were very flavorful, and Nancy reported that the cole slaw was fresh and had just the right amount of mayonnaise.

Oh, and we had salads with their ginger salad dressing.  Sensational.  I asked if we could buy some of the dressing to take with us, but they don’t bottle it.  If they did, it would be a gift to humanity.

We weren’t the only ones who enjoyed our meal.  I saw a guy down the bar pick up the head of a whole yellowtail to chew on the cheeks.  Respect.  The fellow next to me ordered the whole yellowtail, which is fried and served with a sweet hot sauce.   He did justice to the dish, and praised it to the heavens.

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I was tempted, but didn’t order the whole fish because it was fried and seemed like more food than I should eat, considering that I had noticed coconut pie on the blackboard.  I used to order the coconut pie at Ollie’s of Blessed Memory, the best barbecue place ever.  It was sensational.  Since Ollie’s closed, I’ve been trying to find coconut pie as good as Ollie’s; but I keep searching, on a quest as forlorn as Diogenes would face if he were in Washington today.

The coconut pie was great, full of coconut.  There was even coconut in the crust.  It may not be Ollie’s, but it’s the best I’ve found since Ollie’s closed.

If you are in or near Pompano Beach on a weekday, go to Calypso.  Do.  You’ll thank me.

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