Jerk and Confusion
Lunch today at The Islands, with The Stinky Cheese Man. We had both been meaning to try this Jamaican place, near the Brooklyn Museum, a short walk from Park Slope, where we both live. It's a small, two-level shop. The cramped ground floor houses a counter and the kitchen. Up a steep flight of stairs is a small dining room with four tables.
Jon had heard that the macaroni and cheese was reputed to be excellent, so we decided to split a side. I was interested in the jerk leg of lamb, but I wondered whether the lamb would be ready at the beginning of the day. I asked the waiter if lamb was available. He said he'd check. I told him to bring me jerk chicken if there was no lamb. Jon ordered the oxtail. Jamaican sodas are about the only pop I drink, and I was torn between ginger beer and Ting. I settled on Ting, the grapefruit soda that is much more sassy than Wink ever was.
I did get my lamb, but Jon didn't get his oxtail. Somehow my alternate selection ended up as his main course, so he got the jerk chicken, which would have been his second choice anyway. The macaroni and cheese never arrived, which is just as well, because there was too much food. Just like at Mike's International Restaurant, another excellent Brooklyn Jamaican restaurant, they offer small and large orders. The small orders are enormous. I can't imagine how anybody could finish a large one.
The lamb was a little too dry, but the jerk sauce was excellent–seriously spicy but yielding a complexity of flavor. The plate featured rice and peas, which is Caribbean for rice and beans, mixed vegetables, which in Jamaican restaurants is dominated by cabbage, and a salad that gave me a pleasant surprise. Often Caribbean restaurants will serve iceberg lettuce with Kraft dressing. The plate at Islands featured mesclun greens with a nice, fruity vinaigrette.
We went downstairs to pay the bill. I told the woman to check the check, because we didn't get exactly what we ordered. "The macaroni and cheese never came," I said. "Oh, you should have yelled down," she replied. She started tallying. "Two sodas, jerk lamb, jerk chicken–did you have oxtail too?"
When we left Jon said, "I think she was eating my oxtail."