Jamaica House Cuisine and Culture
My starter in Jamaican restaurants is always a “pattie”. Sort of like the Jamaican version of an empanada, it is a deep fried very spicy, tasty dish made with beef, chicken or vegetables. Probably the most popular fast food in Jamaica, no self-respecting Jamaican would have a meal without one. I like the flavor of them and I like for it to be as rich as possible, so I forgo the practice of wrapping the pattie in Coco Bread as many Jamaicans do.
Coco bread is a relative sweet bread which is a staple in Jamaica and is served with most meals (not free), but my resistance to it is less the quality or taste of the bread and more that I just don’t usually eat bread with my meals unless I’m eating a sandwich.
Callaloo is a water spinach or amaranth based dish. Jamaicans tend to use only callaloo leaf, salt, onions, and scallions, and simply steam the vegetable. However, here, it is boiled and served in a bowl of what we Southerners call “pot liquor”. I’m here to tell you that I love the way it is served at Jamaica House and will never eat here without ordering it.
Goat Curry may be the most ordered dish here, and it is typical of the way Jamaicans tend to cook ALL meat, chicken and fish dishes bone-in. The gravy is delicious, and like the other dishes here, it is very spicy… beautifully so. When I say bone-in, I don’t mean a piece of goat on a bone, I mean chopped into bite-sized pieces bone and all. So each bite is attached to a piece of bone and while it is so tender that it is falling off the bone, it doesn’t do it automatically… you have to make it do it. That can be with a fork… or, picking each little piece up and sucking it off, as I saw some doing. I did it with a fork.
If you ask most Americans to name a Jamaican dish, you are likely to hear Jerk Chicken more often than not. The Jerk Chicken at Jamaica House is as good as I’ve had. Remember I was talking about “hot”? This reminds me of how your lips feel after eating 5 pounds of well-seasoned crawfish. You’re ready for a cold Red Stripe Jamaican beer (out of a glass so you can cool your lips in it). I keep mentioning the heat of the food, but please don’t think that it is a bad thing… it’s the way Jamaicans grow up eating food and I like the fact that they don’t Americanize the food for us. That’s the reason that the restaurant is a hangout for Jamaicans.
Last, but in no way, least, you must finish the meal with Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce. Moist and rummy, it was the perfect way to end my meal and the perfect way to end this review.