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Hidden Jamaican in Park Slope

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Barry Strugatz Apr 29, 2013 07:47 AM

Actually kind of hidden in plain sight. On the corner of Fourth Ave and 10th St. Looks like a bare bones cafe, but tiny sign says Caribbean Food. I had a good jerk chicken with rice & peas and cabbage. Also a hearty chicken and dumpling soup. Everything homemade except for the patties. Worth checking out.

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  1. b
    Barry Strugatz Apr 29, 2013 09:53 AM

    Forgot to mention info:
    Slope Cafe
    453 4th Avenue
    718-788-4483

    1. missmasala Apr 29, 2013 12:24 PM

      thanks! are they open for lunch?

      1 Reply
      1. re: missmasala
        b
        Barry Strugatz Apr 29, 2013 12:29 PM

        They said 8a to 8p.

      2. Cheese Boy Apr 29, 2013 07:29 PM

        Love me a good Jamaican style chicken and dumplin' soup. Thanks.

        1. t
          tex.s.toast Apr 30, 2013 06:32 AM

          Im eager to hear other reports. My appraisal (as a neighbor) has been fairly superficial - for a place with "cafe" in the name their coffee business seemed suprisingly weak, and even with the closing of the popular if snooty Cafe 474 across the street they havent done much to capture it. Is opening a coffee shop at 8am reasonable?

          Dont get me wrong - i love a good dive, but why does the TV have an episode of COPS! on every time i walk past?

          I wish i had a picture but i love that the "tiny sign [that] says Caribbean Food" is clearly repurposed from anther restaurant, it has stock photography of a random chicken breast with rosemary and a cup of coffee on it, and when its lit up you can plainly see where they covered another word with the word Caribbean.

          4 Replies
          1. re: tex.s.toast
            Cheese Boy Apr 30, 2013 10:38 PM

            'why does the TV have an episode of COPS! on every time i walk past?'

            They are infatuated with Inner Circle and praise law enforcement.

            1. re: Cheese Boy
              t
              tex.s.toast May 1, 2013 06:41 AM

              Don't get me wrong, i LOVE "COPS!" (the show, not the people) - it just stuck out to me as indicative of the rank amateurishness of their restaurant endeavor (along with the obviously thrifted/repurposed sign)

              1. re: tex.s.toast
                Cheese Boy May 1, 2013 10:52 PM

                Interesting observation on your part.

                They'll need to step up their game if they're going to survive.

            2. re: tex.s.toast
              Miss Needle May 8, 2013 01:30 PM

              I kind of get what you're saying about the place. It has annoyed me when I found them closed during their posted hours. But I've encountered that a lot in the Carribbean so perhaps they are on "island time."

              I once ordered hot tea to go from there (around 11A). No sizes or prices posted. They charged me $2 and gave me a teabag with hot water in an 8 oz sized cup. I didn't say anything at first because I thought that's all they had. I then spied larger cups in the back. I really wished they asked me what size I would like. I was going to be late so I had no time do try to get a larger size.

            3. l
              linda313 Apr 30, 2013 12:40 PM

              Thanks for venturing inside and reporting. I'd seen and made a mental note to try, but haven't yet.

              1. Jim Leff May 17, 2013 08:20 PM

                Great find, as usual, Barry.

                The food's sort of hard to explain. It's not oilcan barbecued jerk, it's done in the oven. But it's the best oven jerk I've had. The chicken meat is moist, but the skin is positively crackling, and tons of flavor is extracted. Rice and peas is plump, moist and great. The sauce is fruity and incendiary and contains some really interesting, aromatic herbs.

                This is the real deal, and the workers and managers are deep, kind, and soulful.

                Anyone judging it via the coffee shop constituting it's "front" operation is missing the point.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Jim Leff
                  b
                  Barry Strugatz May 18, 2013 12:14 PM

                  Glad you liked it, Jim. I'm no expert on Jamaican food and I know that traditional Jerk is barbecued so thanks for putting this in context. I hope to check out the other items on their short menu. But as I noted the patties were not special, from Golden Crust.

                  1. re: Barry Strugatz
                    Jim Leff May 18, 2013 01:12 PM

                    I'm not surprised about the patties. These guys are still in hesitant, "stealth" mode, not totally confident that their Jamaican stuff is ready for prime time in this neighborhood. They're not going to lavish care on a commodity like beef patties...yet.

                    This is why there's only a grudging few Jamaican dishes on offer, while they're more explicitly selling themselves as a coffee shop.

                    If enough hounds go there, support the serious Jamaican stuff, and beg for more, I'm pretty sure we can encourage them to become what they clearly dream of becoming, anyway.

                    This is the sort of mission this website once was good for. Can we muster that sort of action these days (or will everyone just keep complaining about the pound cake and iced chai lattes)? Let's see!

                    1. re: Jim Leff
                      l
                      linda313 May 20, 2013 07:12 AM

                      Mission accepted; I'll go this week.

                      1. re: linda313
                        Jim Leff May 20, 2013 08:26 AM

                        Great; looking forward to your report

                2. o
                  oreng May 20, 2013 08:05 AM

                  The jerk is unlike anything I have had. And I have had a lot of jerk.

                  Chicken is great for sure.

                  Sauce, which is poured on top, is thick and almost medicinal but in a good way. By the end, I was hooked.

                  They actually sell the sauce by the jar.

                  One thing to note- I was there at closing. Not sure if that explains the crispy chicken or consistency of sauce.

                  1. l
                    linda313 May 23, 2013 07:03 PM

                    I promised a report, so here it is: this place is a real treasure. Went there for carry-out tonight, and got an order of jerk chicken and an order of stewed oxtail. The two women working there - mother and daughter? - couldn't have been sweeter. And the food . . . oh, the food! The chicken, as others have written, was tender, with a crackling skin and plenty of delicious sauce. (I asked for spicy, and they didn't hold back.) Hard to describe the sauce - fruity and tart and salty with plenty of allspice and a chile bite.

                    The oxtails were the ultimate comfort food, simmered with broad beans (butter beans? not sure) until they were falling-off-the-bone tender. I was glad to be eating them at home, where I could suck and gnaw the last bits of meat and cartilage off the bones, but you know what? It was so good, I would probably have ended up doing the same thing in the restaurant.

                    The main dishes came with a mountain of rice and peas (they used kidney beans, which I found a little unusul) and the usual steamed cabbage.

                    I'll be back for sure, and I hope others in the Park Slope area will pay them a visit. (As a recent transplant from Detroit, I find West Indian food one of the great pleasures of Brooklyn, and much as I enjoy wandering through the park to Prospect Lefferts or Flatbush, it's nice to have someplace this good this close.)

                    1. t
                      tex.s.toast Jul 24, 2013 08:35 AM

                      And theyre closed. That was quick. Can't say its terribly surprising.

                      In related news, it appears that the space has already been turned around: http://southslopenews.com/blog/busine...

                      i suppose reports on the new spot probably deserve their own thread, but seeing as i no longer live right there ill leave that for other folks with more opportunities to access it.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: tex.s.toast
                        b
                        Barry Strugatz Jul 24, 2013 08:42 AM

                        No, this isn't the same place. This is across the street, mid-block. I drove by the Jamaican place last week and it was open.

                        1. re: Barry Strugatz
                          t
                          tex.s.toast Jul 24, 2013 09:21 AM

                          yeah, something weird is going on - another link from the same site (south slope news) said it was in the jonny hollywoods/pizza grill spot, which is consistent with the pictures, though contradicts the description of it being between 10th and 11th.

                          Barry, can you settle this internet mystery?

                          1. re: tex.s.toast
                            b
                            Barry Strugatz Jul 24, 2013 09:30 AM

                            Look at Google Maps street view. The Jamaican place is on the South East corner of 4 Ave & 10 Street.

                            1. re: Barry Strugatz
                              t
                              tex.s.toast Jul 24, 2013 11:36 AM

                              I used to live across the street. I am not confused about the location of Slope Cafe (the Jamaican place). Based on the link above, it would seem that south slope news is under the false impression that they have been replaced by the new french spot.

                              this link (same source, different date) suggest otherwise: http://southslopenews.com/blog/busine....

                              other sources seem to concur that its between 11th and 12th in the old Pizza Grill location.

                              1. re: tex.s.toast
                                b
                                Barry Strugatz Jul 24, 2013 11:55 AM

                                If you Google Street view the address in the article (474 4Ave) it shows the space that was once a cafe and I believe a soup restaurant bet. 10 &11.

                                1. re: Barry Strugatz
                                  t
                                  tex.s.toast Jul 24, 2013 01:56 PM

                                  agreed. its also not where these guys are opening up, its across the street from there. the 474 location is being turned into another condo building.

                                  1. re: Barry Strugatz
                                    pitu Sep 4, 2013 01:14 PM

                                    474 4th Ave looks like the place that had great soup and tamales, much missed. Excited to try the jerk spot across the avenue...

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