There was a day not long ago that the classiest joint in the East Village was a crackden on 12th Street with good mood lighting and a three legged table that balanced on a stack of porn mags. Not any more. This is the 21st Century East Village, complete with upscale Caribbean joints and 24 hour pharmacies. Bambou happens to be one of the former. Sure there’s no name on the door (an East Village requirement) and the block looks as if it was painted by the gray brush of a bi-polar German, but step inside and you’ll be transported into Jamaica: your new island home. Couches and wicker benches, along with flowing white curtains and vegetation adorn the space, and the smiling maitre d’ greets you as if you are his personal guest in his home (or maybe he knows you are coming to drop some serious cash in his restaurant). The equally friendly bartender will mix you up any number of island and South American concoctions, including awesome mojitos and delicious caipirinhas. The food is a nice mixture of fish and meat, with appetizers like coconut fried shrimp and crabcakes over avocado, and entrees that include steamed mussels in a coconut broth, jerk chicken and a good strip steak. The shocking part about this place isn’t its warm atmosphere or extremely slow service, but the bill at the end of the night. $12 drinks and pricey entrees make this place the most overpriced joint since Banana Republic stopped selling pith helmets and mosquito netting. If price is no object, or if you want to show a date a good time, we couldn’t recommend a better place to chill, relax and kick-back without having to put on a thong and embarrass yourself in front of a bunch of 19 year-old Spring breakers. [MF]

243 East 14th St. (bet. 2nd & 3rd Aves)