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Back A Yard in Menlo Park report...

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Ok so I didn't make it to Pine Mountain this weekend but I was in Belmont again. After searching the boards I had heard a lot about Back A Yard in Menlo Park. I've been dying for some jerk chicken so I went. I walked in (so excited by the way and starving) and the place reminded me of a hole in the wall taqueria in San Diego or something. It was very small, a few tables around and packed full of people. All the seats were full and there was a line literally out the door. (Oh ya, it was 8:00 Friday night) So I ordered a vegetable patty, and the white meat jerk chicken. I then was so excited that I was there (seeing the chef through the kitchen doors) that I had to tell the lady at the register just how excited I was and how I had heard such great things about them on this site...I think she thought I was crazy....oh well.

So the food took a little while and the place never slowed down. We ordered to go since there wasn't a seat in the place. We got the food and I seriously ran to the car and grabbed the vegetable patty. It was good, I think it could have had more filling and a little less "pocket" though. So the one mistake I made was ordering the white meat chicken. The meat was dry. BUT the flavor was PERFECTION!!! I was wary from reading past recs that it wouldn't be spicy enough (I like to sweat when I eat) but I thought the heat was perfect. People on hear had mentioned how you can taste the layers of spices, and you really can. It was amazing. It came with the red beans and rice which were delicious, especially with the jerk, and the fried plantains. The plantains were delicious also, they were just carmelized sugary goodness.

So, needless to say I was very happy, I think next time I'm going to get the dark meat jerk chicken with the oxtails, I bet they are great. I can't wait to go back!!

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  1. Thanks for the update. I am always in awe of places that somehow layer the taste of the spicing.

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    Back A Yard Caribbean American Grill
    1189 Willow Rd, Menlo Park, CA 94025

    1. I was in the area so I went by for lunch today. It was fully packed at about 1pm, and many to go customers were standing outside. I saw a table end up having to get their order to go because the wait was so long.

      I ordered the jerk chicken and pork combo, and requested spicy. All the meats were tender and flavorful (including white meat chicken), but I still found the heat lacking. There was just the slightest heat, very slight. I do agree that there is a nice layer of spices, you could taste different spices more so in different bites; a little allspice here, garlic there, nutmeg here.

      The jerk sauce was 25 cents extra and didn't give any extra heat but rather a ginger, lime kick, with juices from the meat drippings.

      Last visit, I tried the hot sauce on the table which I liked, but I got my order to go so didn't get a chance this time around. I also liked the red beans and rice last time, this time the rice seemed slightly overcooked. Still, a satisfying meal and the crowds can attest. The place will be closed on Monday 6/23 (closed) getting new equipment so hopefully the remodel will help them handle the crowds better.

      BTW, has anyone tried the drinks here? They have a few Jamaican drinks in the fridge but I tried the mango one in 1 of the 2 slush machines. It was pretty good, nice and thick, tasted almost like a mango Kerns.

      1 Reply
      1. re: DezzerSF

        Since this has been bumped, I'll add my two cents. i stopped by last week when I was in the neighborhood, the first in a long time. I needed to see for myself if the same folks were there, and yep, it's true. Chef Robert is spending most of his time at the new place, Coconuts, in downtown Palo Alto, but still comes by to check on things. His wife is still at the front counter. The interior has been spiffed up and there's more seating now inside. I mentioned to her my disappointing meal at Coconuts, and she insisted that I need to be vocal and send the food back or they don't know when there's a problem. I told her that next time I'd poke my head into the kitchen to see who's cooking and she said that would be ok.

        I already had dinner plans, but picked up a homemade tropical punch. Good, but i couldn't drink much of it at one sitting since it's quite sweet. Also got a coconut cream pie to go, not as good as the last time I tried it because the whipped cream seems to have some kind of stabilizer in it. The creamy custard part and crust were fine though.

      2. If you're not getting any of the sides at Backayard, you're missing out. My favorites are the corn festivals (pillowy, fried, starchy goodness), and the collard greens. The sweet potato pudding for dessert is a must as well.

        And people, it's a small restaurant, if you've got a party of 10, do the rest of us (and the restaurant) a favor and make it a catering order to go!

        3 Replies
        1. re: mewantfood

          Is there someplace close by where you can eat the food, like a park since the location seems to have limited seating? I'm thinking about going there this weekend.

          1. re: luckytomato

            Eh. Sort of. You could sit on the curb or in your car. You could walk about half a block down toward 101 - there's a mean little patch of dirt with cars whizzing by.

            You can go to flood county park, which means over 101, right onto bay st at the first light, and down till you see the park. They charge admission but have lots of pick nick tables. Probably 2 miles.

            Bay Front Park - get back on 101 northbound, get off at the first exit (marsh) toward the bay, the park's right there. This might be the closest in time, but I don't think it's that pleasant.

            There's a park further down willow. Turn left at Willow Cove Gas - you'll see a weird stone sculpture and some tennis courts too. It's probably a mile from BAY. Willow Oaks Park. That'd be my choice, even though they don't have tables, the grass is nice and the sculpture is cool.

            1. re: bbulkow

              Thanks a bunch! I'll have to print out your suggestions.