Billed as "laid back tropical cuisine," Sweetwater's eclectic menu - which includes Cuban, Dominican, Hawaiian, Thai and Jamaican fare - is the United Nations of island grub. When done right - like the curried avocado and jasmine rice ($14) - these varied coastal influences dance in step, rich curried coconut-milk, diced tomatoes and cilantro swaying to a spicy, peanut-y beat. When done wrong - like the dry, gingerbread-ish buttermilk cornbread ($2.25) - it's a scratched record. On a recent visit to Sweetwater's, I opted to sit in the upstairs dining area. Lit by the warm glow of Christmas lights, I watched the winter wind claw at the windows and relished the effervescent ping of champagne bubbles as they slid down my throat ($4.50, Segura Viudas cava mini bottle). At that moment, the joint's tropical theme was a welcome escape.Surveying the damage we'd done - piles of empty clam, mussel and shrimp shells - my date and I agreed that, though our culinary experiences at Sweetwater's have been overwhelmingly enjoyable, it's the context that gives us pause. With prices comparable to other high-end downtown establishments and the atmosphere of a Joe's Crab Shack, it's a rare mood that would entice me into Sweetwater's over other nearby options. On the other hand, the fresh oysters and inexpensive champagne will undoubtably turn me into a happy hour regular.
Sweetwater's Tropic Zone
SWEETWATER'S TROPIC ZONEThere's nothing subtle about Sweetwater's Tropic Zone. From the moment you step into the color-splashed space - with its lightweight cantina tables, ceiling-mounted pink flamingos and echoing reggae - you know you're on Jimmy Buffet's turf.Billed as "laid back trop...