International Flair at Canton's Planet
This location is closed
Naming a restaurant Planet on the Corner (2229 Fleet St.,  732-3700) might be a trifle presumptuous, but this Canton bistro's menu does live up to the "world of tastes" promised in the place's slogan. (For the record: "In a world of tastes . . . there's only one Planet.") Most folks will likely find something to like on the globetrotting menu, which gives nods to England, France, Italy, Mexico, and the Middle East, as well as the United States.
Four of us ventured in on a recent Sunday evening, eager to shake the work-week-closing-in blahs, and were immediately charmed by the variety of challenging board games and an atmosphere that mixed neighborhood-joint comfort with downtown cool--black chairs, black tablecloths, black-and-white tile floor, black ceiling, black stools at the bar serving up coffee drinks and alcohol. The stark bichromatic scheme is relieved by colorful paintings (the café doubles as a gallery), two huge windows overlooking the titular corner (of Fleet Street and Patterson Park Avenue), and walls in sandstone and terra-cotta hues.
We started our culinary tour in Italy and the Middle East with orders of bruschetta ($6) and hummus ($5.50), then picked the Planetary Salad ($8) to share. On the soup tip, I wanted creamy chicken-and-potato, but our friend Daydream thought the chorizo with rice ($2.50 for a bowl) sounded more intriguing. Appetizers came out one at a time, because that's the kind of joint this is--casual. (I don't want to rag on our server--he said it was his first night on the job--but it was hard to flag him down for flatware or a drink refill.)
The bruschetta, a serving generous enough for three or four, received raves. The small rounds of bread were just toasty enough, and the tomato-and-herb topping featured quality olive oil. We also loved the hummus, flavored with red pepper and garlic, and heaped in the center of a large plate with triangles of cheese and herb-topped flatbread radiating from it. The salad--a meal in itself--scored high too. The greens were tossed with chunks of blue cheese, red onions, walnut pieces, red grapes, and a bit of roasted red pepper. There was a generous hand with the cheese and nuts (as one would hope at that price), and we liked the dense, dark balsamic vinaigrette.
But the soup--ah! the soup. Despite a smallish serving, the chowderlike brew was immensely satisfying, a nicely seasoned mix of black beans, white rice, celery, and slices of the mildly spiced chorizo.
As for entrées, C.C.'s Quesagrande ($8.50), a quesadilla filled with chicken, mushrooms, green chilies, and a mix of pepper-jack and cheddar cheeses, really hit the spot. It came with salsa and sour cream, as well as a side salad. Hearty, filling, great taste. Our friend Joanne's choice, Ben's Blancas ($9.50), was a less successful affair. Though described on the menu as chicken enchiladas, what arrived was more of a chicken burrito, with the same filling as the Quesagrande. The burrito also contained "a rich mushroom sauce." which tasted to Joanne like cream-of-mushroom soup, although the rest of us liked the creamy interior, however it got that way.
My meat-loaf sandwich on whole wheat ($8, also available on a sourdough baguette) was, according to the menu, "Georgian-style." Unless Georgia cooks pride themselves on creating slabs of ground beef devoid of seasoning, I'm not sure the residents of that state will be pleased. On the other hand, the "Kentucky Franklin" sauce, a sweet barbecue concoction, would probably overwhelm any meat loaf. The bread was nice and chewy, but the side of smashed potatoes fell flat; they tasted like home fries left over from brunch, then literally smashed and refried. Pasta salad, chips and salsa, and fresh fruit are also available as sides, and any would be a better choice.
On the upside--the way-up side--was Daydream's choice from the list of "orbital pizzas," the white pizza ($8). Any time you smother big cloves of roasted garlic in mozzarella and pile them on a crispy, flavorful crust, it's an unqualified success with me; this pie upped the ante with chicken, green chilies, mushroom sauce, and cilantro. Terrific. I'd like to return to sample some of the other interesting-sounding combo pizzas, like the one with pepperoni and kielbasa, or design one of my own from an eclectic topping list featuring the likes of blue and feta cheese, pesto, corn, black beans, and eggplant.
We were engaged in a rousing game of TriBond, in which the object is to find the connection among three seemingly disparate entities, so we took it calmly when our server announced they were out of desserts. Well, no planet is perfect. I contented myself with sipping on a java and watching my score go down.
Open 11 a.m.-1 a.m. daily.