Edgar's Calypso blends Caribbean flavors
When Edgar's Calypso, 628 N. Water St., opened its doors in October 2007, the space had undergone a major transformation from cool and trendy Swank to a casual, colorful tropical restaurant, complete with thatched roofs over the bar and a painstakingly painted mural covering all of the walls with an island theme.
Michael Dillon, owner of Edgar's and also McDill Design, housed upstairs in the same building, hand painted the murals and seems to have captured every detail of the islands, save a sand floor.
The first thing diners will notice about Edgar's Calypso is this meticulous novelty décor, which takes you away into a kitschy, tropical and fun environment. The atmosphere lends itself well to light-hearted cocktails and socializing, and the menu is diverse, alternating Jamaican, Cuban and other Caribbean influences, while offering staples like cheeseburgers and chicken breast sandwiches.
Edgar's excels in the Cuban and Jamaican selections, but the other menu items we tried ranked at average or slightly below, and service here has some issues.
Cups of Cuban black bean soup and white Tuscan bean ($3.50) started a lunch experience off on a tremendously high note. Both soups were rich and skillfully seasoned, and were good enough to make me return for lunch to sample the soup of the day.
Appetizers of seafood cakes ($9.50), chips and avocado salsa ($4.95), and tostones ($6.95) were a mixed bag as far as quality, and were inconsistent. Tostones during a lunch visit were slightly mushy and on a dinner visit, were slightly burnt and hard to bite through.
Both the Cuban sandwich ($8.50) and the BBQ pork sandwich ($8.50) were excellent, packaged cutely in butcher paper and served with sweet potato or regular French fries. But temperature disparity with the fries diminished the quality of the dish overall.
Cold French fries are always disappointing, and our server, who brought the wrong side dish for one order and the wrong sandwich for another, seemed unconcerned with his mistakes. Although he did ask if we wanted to wait for the correct sandwich to be prepared, he never offered to adjust the bill or make any other efforts. A second visit offered more service challenges, with empty plates and glassware at our table until we asked politely for them to be removed.
Ropa Vieja ($10.95) a slow-roasted skirt steak of Cuban origin, was phenomenal, and was only slightly tainted by the rice which accompanied it, which while very good in flavor, was not fully cooked, leaving hard kernels. A jerk pork tenderloin ($14.95) was also excellent; tender and flavorful, and accompanied by a side of seasoned black beans and more of the rice. Edgar's best cheeseburger ($7.95) provided a good, classic cheeseburger on an egg bun, playfully deemed a "cheeseburger in paradise."
The mojito menu provides enough variety to tickle even the pickiest of palates, with tropical twists on the rum-based drink that could have you sampling different variations for weeks.
Edgar's has potential to excel, with the fun, playful atmosphere and a few stellar dishes on the menu, predominantly in the Jamaican and Cuban cooking styles. If it can expand on the good dishes and increase the level of service, this could quite easily become one of the best places in town to meet friends for a casual lunch or after work.
The prices are fair but portions are small. The food was average. The service was some of the worst I've had in Milwaukee. Our server disappeared for 15 minutes at a time. Drinks took forever to arrive. Hostess was downright rude. We had a reservation for a group of 12 and rather than asking if we wanted to be seated, she launched into a tantrum about us needing to sit at our reservation time (8pm... it was 8:03 and had already said we were ready to sit)... what was the big hurry? They wanted to close the kitchen by 9. How did we know? Our server and hostess both yapped about how they wanted to shut down and get out asap. Met the owner. Seems like a very nice guy... if he'd fire 75% of his staff, he might make a go of it.
We LOVE Edgar Calypso! Having been there twice now we will most certainly be regulars. The staff is so attentive and friendly. The service over lunch is quick but not rushed. The owner, Michael came over to check on our experience and gave us background on how the restaurant came to be. It is brightly decorated and gives you true Caribean feel. The menu choices are abundant and everything we've had so far has been hot, fresh and delicious. Make sure you try Michael's specialty-the chocolate bread pudding-devine! Give it a try-you won't be disappointed!
PS. Tried the Fish Basket this weekend! One of the best Friday Fish I have ever had. Its a must try! Great addition to the menu and hope they keep it around. Steven
I agree Larry, the place is amazing and the comments on here dont reflect the place I have visited 5 times and every experience has been great. The paintings on the walls are amazing and all done by the owner. Food has been great and service has been amazing as well. Everyone is having fun, smiling, and it shows in the atmosphere of the place. Who can beat buy one get one free happy hour and those amazing wings! The BBQ and Jerk wings are the best in the city. My only concern was front walk way being icy. However its winter in Wisconsin so I really cant complain. Also I wish they had tap beer but was informed by the manager that tap beer will be offered in the coming weeks. Steven Miller
I work downtown and come into Edgar's at least once a week. I dont find these comments anything close to what the real experience is there. Our office loves the place and our services and food has always been top notch! I have even brought my wife down once on a Friday night, which seemed to be a real busy night at the bar, and had to wait a little longer then we would of liked for our drinks, but well worth it. Best margaritas and flavored mojitos in town! Once again on a Saturday night where we met not only Michael Dillon the owner who talked about his love of the Caribbean as well as a young girl who was the front of the house manager who asked about our experience. On many occasions during lunch we have met the GM and talked about the menu in detail as well as his experiences traveling the world and for the record there is always a presence of management or the owner at every visit. I find it rude for someone to make Edgar's out as some young wild frat/college experience. I think the laid back jeans and tshirt uniform is a fun approach and reflects my experiences both in Mexico and the Caribbean. I also feel the chips and dip are a great added touch and who can complain about free snacks anyways? Now I know its a new place, and might have some growing pains as most places do, however I dont feel the comments reflected on this page are a fair reflection of a new excited new place in downtown. My only concern for this new place is parking. No big deal for us downtown lunchers however bit tough during the weekend if you dont want to valet your not so fancy winter car for $3.00. Larry PS. Michael Dillon good luck! Your place is amazing!
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