Restaurant Review


Popodopoulos’ Taverna

L Train to Halsey St., next to the religious icon shop.

Popodopulos’ Taverna is run by a family of hypertrichosists who hail from Cantaloupos , an island in the Aegean Sea. Their form of culinary flair was developed out of necessity. Their island, once a resort of sorts for their ancient Gods, became a warehouse district. Its famous black sands paved over and its olive trees replaced by aluminum warehouses. Beginning in the 1960’s Cantaloupos became a comissary where they kept the surplus of American food products for hospitality conglomerates across the region. Back then, Americans traveled. And they didn’t want pickled octopus and Ouzo. Every non or semi perishable American food item consumed passed through Cantaloupos. When this happened, many Cantaloupians left Cantaloupos behind forever. But some weathered the storm…and what would become an endless series of culinary conundrums…and emerged with what can only be described as a perfect and highly unholy fusion of Mediterranean/7-Eleven cuisine.

In a sly and subtle acknowledgment of their almost surreal cultural decotellage, they bedeck noble ionic columns with flashing neon lights and play Greek cover bands over an old P.A. As we dove into out first course, Vienna Sauasage with a Kalamata olive and anchovie relish with tiny snifters of that funky woody wine, a Nisiotika band played  “I’ve Been to Paradise but It’s Never Been to Me” through the tiny speakers.  My assistant, with whom I have always maintained a cold and clipped relationship, suddenly became the love of my life. The ancient world drowning in lactic acid and monosodium glutomate and phenalalnine  before my very eyes spoke to my loins and the flavors of the food conjoined my pure limbic being with my sagging limbs to such effect that, I must admit, I groped her. The music swelled.  That verse where she says “Oh, I've been to Nice and the Isle of Greece while I've sipped champagne on a yacht..” and how that made it, to me at least, seem reasonable to think of the cradle of civilization as a playground where I could go and get fat and speak English LOUDLY hoping that it will make me easier to understand.  And I knew that wouldn’t last. God knows. But for that brief snapshot of human history, Plato and Charlene were consanguineous in terms of their tastes in destinations. Does it get more romantic than that? Dare I say erotic?  Even in a cold fish like me?

Second course was really something altogether. Rack of butterflied Oscar Meyer cheese filled frankfurters on a bed of  creamed corn risotto dumplings. I can not tell you. I had to take my pants off. I have eaten five thousand dollar foie gras. I have licked truffle off of Battali’s ear lobe.  I have, for the last ten years, attended halloween events dressed as one dozen Colville Bay oysters.  I am so cosmically bonded to the collective  gastro unconscious that I can barely abide a normal man’s toilet bowl.  But a dining experience has never led me to such amorous heights. She’s only twenty two years old. A sensitive, seemingly asexual art history major who’s good at alphabetizing and I suddenly want to mount her like a man sized poodle. This is biochemical. The restaurant is amazing. I want to feel this all the time. And the bazouki blows “Friends in Low Places”.

Third course, a curve ball.  After a palate cleanser of Pixie Stix infused  grappa I expected something inspired (Cracker Jack Baklava? Fig  Slurpee?) But to my consternation the culinary caboose came in the form of Twinkie flambe’, which is, frankly, akin to hearing “Margaritaville” while vacationing in Morocco.  Twinkie flambe’. A detestable notion even when housewives earnestly undertook it in the 60’s, to say nothing of its second coming as it evolved, still grotesque, into a kitschy, ironic, novelty offering at smug self hating caucasian parties in the 90’s. To bring that kind of thing to my table in the twenty first century, in an idyllic locale, and after the aphrodisian courses that preceded it, is  perhaps the most jarring sensual about face ever encountered. I had to ask myself if they were doing it on purpose. But, no. It’s a local delicacy. Being in kind of a cultural backwoods, they apparently weren’t privy to the fact that the flambe’ was hack. So I ate it.

I do hate to be so critical and allow an unsuccessful dessert to overshadow the sweaty lust opera that was the evening leading up to it. But my assistant now looked like a pickled herring in a maccinaw, my pecker had retreated, the P.A. blasted a truly awful monophonic rendition of ‘Pass the Deutchie”,  and I was no longer on the Aegean. I was in Bushwick.  And I was old. And my best days were forty five years ago. And I noticed for the first time how commercial Brooklyn was getting. I told my assistant that I would no longer need her services as I intended to put down my pen forever and seek employment at the nearest Carraba’s. She said she wanted her two hundred dollars. I said she’d have to walk with me to an ATM. The world seemed to be lit by distant flourescent lights. There was no longer any mystique in anything.  This dessert..forget ‘Nam, forget my second marriage, forget my gallbladder operation… this dessert was the coldest crock of demystification that e’er invention played on.   This dessert ruined my life.