The first thing we noticed about Calypso Rotisserie was color. Vibrant, saturated color is incorporated into the logo to dishes and menus and interior. We always take it as a good sign when the proprietors invest in a stylish, cohesive look.
Next came our thought, ever hopeful, that love of good design might actually mean that the same care went into the kitchen, food and training of cooks. More times than we’d like, we are disappointed. But at Calypso Rotisserie we were not.
The restaurant, just north of Loop 1604 on Bandera Road, is modest in size. You walk up to the counter to order. In this way it resembles fast food, and in fact, our food came quickly to the table after we’d ordered. But it seems to have a meat market feel to it as well. Come in, grab one of the succulent rotisserie chickens, or a couple of the caveman-size beef ribs, a side dish or two, then take your booty back to the den.
A salad bar, though, invites one to stay, as do tables and chairs — comfy and not crowded together. The servers, clad in a bright, apple green, are friendly and swift. We had a small serving of perfectly seasoned mashed black beans, topped with a little white cheese and chips, set down moments after we settled at our table with drinks.
The menu is posted over the ordering counter, and you can see the cooks at work through the kitchen window.
Hungry eyes will immediately go to the large rotisseire,. You can choose from three optional seasonings, the original, honey-pineapple barbecue and Jamaican jerk. That big, nicely seasoned chicken, with two large sides, costs just under $20. But we’d say the bird would easily feed a family of four, and maybe offer a few leftovers. Five bucks per person isn’t that steep.
We haven’t tried the pulled pork or pulled chicken yet. We will definitely be going back to do so, though. The restaurant offers “group meals” with a menu that prices chicken by the piece, and the Island Pork by the half pound, short ribs by the piece, and pulled chicken or pork by the half pound.
The kids’ menu recommends serving the “smart meal” with black beans, steamed broccoli and water. Well, fat chance on that water thing, and probably the steamed broccoli. There is a full list of soft drinks (including Mexican Coke and Barq’s Root Beer) to choose from. Plus, I can’t see any self-respecting child not demanding the wonderful, tender roasted potato wedges, these also heartily seasoned.
Other healthful options include gluten-free bread, as requested and “all natural” beef, pork and chicken (hormone, antibiotic free).
While the spicy jerk seasonings, and a side of jerk sauce that we ended up pouring over our black beans, were really delicious on our chicken, the highlight of my lunch was the Cuban sandwich.
I once raced through the Miami airport as I awaited a connecting flight to Jamaica, to find a certain sandwich concession that I’d read about. That Cuban sandwich was worth all the hassle — it was close to perfection.
The one at Calypso Rotisserie comes in a very close second. I think the bread at the airport had more flavor and was pressed with a flat grill rather than the ridged panini grill used by Calypso. But these are more observations than complaints. The tender slices of roast pork included a nice trim of fat pressed with tasty spices. The ham was tender, the cheese, pickle and mustard were just right — these may be bit players in a good Cuban, but they also need to be right.
After lunch, we decided to buy dinner as well and take it home with us. That meant refrigerating it, then reheating, which probably isn’t optimal with this fresh-off-the-rotisserie food. But, the slabs of sliced Island Pork were fork tender and bounteously seasoned. We tried the Pineapple Coconut Rice, Caramelized Plantains and the Crispy Tropical Slaw as well. I loved the coconut rice, which had a colorful mix of confetti-cut vegetables in it and a rich coconut flavor. The slaw, made of mango, cucumber and jicama was refreshingly not overdressed. The plantains were firm and not overly sweet, but good.
Finally, the beef short rib was an impressively sized hank of bone, with a lot of tender meat. That meat came easily off the bone in tender, well-seasoned shreds. With the coconut rice and using some of the jerk seasoning as a dipping sauce, we were well satisfied.
While we had our cold beer at home with dinner, Calypso Rotisserie is still awaiting its liquor license. But, don’t let that stop you from starting your tour of the menu. Oh, and did we mention the Jamaican jerk chicken wings and guacamole?
Calypso Rotisserie is at 12030 Bandera Road in Helotes. It is open daily. For more information call 210-695-4242 or go to the website.