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August 6th, 2008 Sara Moskovitz | Bar Reviews
 

Calabash

     
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PULL MY FINGER: Tunes and tipple at Calabash.
IMAGE: Matt D’Annunzio

IT’S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL: “People were asking me for Fuzzy Navels. I don’t know what that is! A rum and Coke, yes, I can do that,” says Tony Alabi. The owner of Calabash (835 SW 2nd Ave., 241-5676), Portland’s new “world beat headquarters,” is chatting about playing bartender. Having spent the past 20 years as a software engineer, Alabi may not know cocktail recipes so well, but his expertise in African and Caribbean music should help balance things out. The bar, named for the large, meaty gourds grown in Alabi’s home country of Nigeria, is comfortable, clean and airy—half dining room and half dance space. Located along a main artery of downtown, Calabash has world-class potential but at the moment is fairly quiet, save for Alabi’s amicable, Nigerian-accented voice. The partially completed Southern soul-food dinner menu includes handmade hush puppies, biscuits, catfish and quail. Nights featuring resident reggae and dancehall DJs like Kal-El are in the works. But for now, until the beverage and menu kinks are smoothed out, Alabi whips me up a tequila- and grenadine-laced libation ($5), equal parts sweet and smooth. We name it “The Tony.”

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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