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Jamaican Jerk

Hi Chowhoundies, Where can I find exceptional Jamaican Jerk? Tried Flames II in Brigham Circle and Blue Ribbon's version, but I suspect that they might be a better version elsewhere.
Thanks in advance.

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  1. I'd never had Jamaican jerk chicken before, so I ordered it last night at Ortanique (Huron Village, West Cambridge). Although it was quite good, I still love the curry chicken (or goat) best.

    1. The jerk chicken at Something Savory in Arlington is really good -- not sure it's Jamaican, however.

      1. Tried the Blue Ribbon jerk also...really disappointed. It was so dry I almost choked before I could get to a drink. The only decent (I'm not an expert though) jerk chicken I ever had was at Rhythm & Spice near MIT...but I heard they went out of business.

        1. Jerk chicken at Nice n Nuff on Blue Hill Ave used to be pretty good. I also liked the jerk at Paradise, but haven't tried it since it became Garden of Eden (on Norfolk street outside of Codman Sq.)

          Pepper Pot on Dudley is pretty solid Jamaican food, though I always go for fish soup.

          Tried Ortanique's jerk once - totally dried out and not spicy enough, plus I hate their rice and peas.

          14 Replies
          1. re: MB fka MB

            I wonder if Ortanique has changed hands/chefs because I noted lots of early thumbs down that did not reflect my recent visit or youngho's post above. The jerk chicken I had a couple of weeks ago was not killer spicy but super-moist to the point of glistening and you could see the spices. I also loved their rice which had red beans, not peas.

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              Beans in rice is called "rice and peas" in Jamaican cooking. "peas" are most often kidney beans, but also sometime pigeon peas. I don't like their rice because it seems to me to be par-boiled rice, more quick cooking, and had too much allspice or clove seasoning. Chicken soup was just a thick base of bouillon. This place is not for me.

              1. re: MB fka MB

                Thanks for the lesson - I had no idea...

                1. re: MB fka MB

                  It's funny, I forgot that I have had the Jamaican jerk chicken sandwich twice at Blue Ribbon BBQ. I didn't find the jerk chicken at either place to be dried out at all, but I may have had different experiences. The Blue Ribbon version was quite moist (I did like it enough to have it a second time), and I was able to eat the Ortanique version using only a fork. Although I certainly don't know enough about the rice to comment, it seemed tasty enough at the time.

                  FWIW, I think Ortanique is a charming little place with friendly owners that offers decent food at reasonable prices and adds diversity to its neighborhood. For those in the area, I think it would be worth a stop to check out the curry chicken and have a bottle of Ting.

              2. re: MB fka MB

                I was hoping you would chime in MB, need to check the places you mention. I find many of the Dorchester restaurants (no I have not tried every one) jerk not spicy enough and usually make my own at home. Still looking for a Paradise or Parkside (RIP) level of heat where you can feel the scotch bonnet/habanero burn and not just the other flavors. Agree that Flames (either location) and Ortanique
                lack the fire.

                The only jerk sauce w/ real heat I've had out of late is at Redbones in Davis Sq., they have it on chopped beef and it is fiery more often than not and has the traditional allspice/vinegar/citrus flavors as well.

                1. re: PaulB

                  yup. I just use Walkerswood at home. Parboil chicken wings, rub em good and marinate overnight, then give them a good crisping on the grill. They'll burn your face off. Also love it on bluefish - so good.

                  Paradise was the best - my Jamaican friends would drive from Brockton to get food there. But it's been years since I've had a knock-your-socks off JA meal in Boston. Tried some saltfish from Irie last weekend and it was horrible. I used to go to Nice N Nuff - it had been recommended by a rasta friend who thought Paradise added too much sugar/browning to sweeten the food. There's a place that used to be over on Geneva Ave (near Bowdoin?) that was pretty good, but it's been years since I've been in that 'hood. Some new places along Blue Hill Ave, esp. by Franklin Park, that I've not tried. Maybe we make a list and split up? ;-)

                  1. re: MB fka MB

                    I'm game but there are so many aside from those mentioned; Only One, Island Pride, Island Style, P&R, Hummingbird, Calabash etc.

                    Will post my findings after I reach a few, plan to start with the newer ones and revisiting a few I havent been to in some time.

                  2. re: PaulB

                    Didn't the Flames on Morton St. burn down?

                    1. re: C. Hamster

                      It may have some time ago but it was open Friday night 8/31/07 when I stopped in before an event at Kay's Oasis.

                      1. re: PaulB

                        crap, was that the soundclash!? I've been meaning to check out Hummingbird and Island Style (or is it Island Price - right there near Hip Zepi and the park?)

                        Skip Calabash altogether, really. P&R just cooks ahead of time and leaves the food sitting in chafing dishes for the whole day and it don't look good. Nice stop for a little grape nut ice cream or a patty with coco bread and cheese, tho'.

                    2. re: PaulB

                      I agree on Redbones. I'm no jerk expert, but I've enjoyed the jerk beef there several times (in a sandwich and on its own) and it's been very spicy and fairly delicious.

                      1. re: skokefoe

                        Redbones jerked beef rocks. I wish that they had a chicken option as well. The heat varies a bit depending on who makes it. On one visit it was completely over the top. Big endorphin rush!!!

                        1. re: Chrispy75

                          I honestly have to say that when I had the jerked beef at Redbones about 4 years ago, it was absolutely the hottest thing I've put in my mouth. Now, I love hot stuff, but this was nearly unbearable, and I suffered the next day, as well. So, I would have to say that this would not be an ideal jerk experience in Boston.

                          1. re: Spenbald

                            I have found the jerked beef at Redbones to be quite inconsistent in terms of flavor and spiciness or heat. I've probably ordered them 5 or 6 times in the past 2 months! When it's on, it's really great but have been slightly disappointed which was about half the time i have to say.

                  3. Has anyone been to Irie in Dorchester recently? Are they even still around?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Alcachofa

                      yep, they're still around. and I don't expect they'll go anywhere anytime soon. i don't recall their jerk chicken being particularly spicy, though it is quite good. the plantains are amazing.

                    2. Boy do i miss Rythym and Spice in Central... now the Middlesex Lounge. Sigh.

                      However, I recall having good, authentic-ish jerk at Ali's Roti Wrap..... but it was a long time ago, and I could be mistaken.

                      1. I don't think anyone has mentioned M&M Ribs yet. I actually have no idea where their truck is located in Dorchester, but I've sampled their both of the last two years at the Rock'n'Ribfest in NH. This year they had Jerk chicken (one of their specialties) in addition to BBQ and ribs. I got the Jerk and rice this year and it was great (and great deal also). The people were very friendly too.

                        I couldn't find much info online, but here's a review that might help (complete with pictures): http://www.boston.com/ae/food/restaur...

                        1. Not quite Jamaican, but the grilled jerk wings at East Coast Grill have plenty of heat. I'm pretty sure I found the recipe once and found they didn't use any allspice, which as far as I know, is important to real jerk. There are plenty of scotch bonnets, thyme, and other spices in the rub, so it's worth a try if you haven't had them.