US - Middletown, CT
A lot of our friends are headed to Jamaica this weekend and we wanted to be there in spirit so we decided to try US last night, a combination of Southern Soul Food and Jamaican Caribbean cuisine. To begin with, they need more signage out front. Since their location has a marquis over the sidewalk, you really don't notice the restaurant as you walk by. They also have window displays from previous iterations as a retail shop with small signs. They have tables outside but there is nothing on them to indicate that the place is open for business. They need to get noticed more. Many places along Main Street were busy including sidewalk seating while we were one of about a half dozen tables being used inside.
Inside, the decor is very nice with a lot of black and white and large black & red paintings high on the wall. They have an upstairs area where our waitress said they hosted a charity auction the previous night with 150 people. There is also a glassed in private VIP area upstairs in front of the building.
Service was good. How could it not be when one waitress had to work with only a handful of tables. Drinks were good and were brought fairly quickly. Their list of rums was very impressive.
As we ordered, The Mrs. ordered the Fried Chicken & Red Velvet Waffles from the Soul side of the menu. I wanted to try the Jerk Pork from the Inlaw (Jamaican) side and also asked for an appetizer of Jerk Chicken Spring Rolls. Our waitress said that they may have been out of Jerk Pork but would check on it for me. When she left, the owner/Executive Chef, Garfield Trout, came over to the table to thank us for coming in. In talking to him for a while we could tell he was passionate about his food. We told him we were impressed that he was cooking his Jerk over Pimento wood as they do on the island. The Mrs. told him that she had asked the waitress for suggestions. He suggested she try the Oxtail or the Goat, both of which we have had in Jamaica.
The waitress came back to tell me they were out of Jerk Pork (they had only been open four hours) and they were out of the Spring Rolls. I decided to go with the Jerk Chicken at that point. She later came over with a plate of four Jerk Chicken Spring Rolls saying that they were prepared earlier and the kitchen staff didn't look in the right place. The Exec. Chef told her to bring them over and comp them. They had a bit of a spiciness to them served with a dipping sauce. We really enjoyed them.
The Mrs. Otxtail was delicious and plentiful. There was so much she took home enough for another meal. It was served with a very flavorful Rice & Beans. My Jerk Chicken was excellent. It was a boneless breast, cut into strips coated with a KILLER Jerk sauce. It packed enough heat to make my mouth tingle but still want to scrape all that I could off the plate. It was served with sliced red and yellow peppers that had no seasoning. I would have preferred the rice & beans.
We will head back to US again. I just wish they can do something to make themselves more visible to people as their food is so good.
The food at US is good, decent service, however there are some odd things going on here. The coupla times I asked for truffled tater tots, they came out as shoestrings. The bourbon smash cocktail is never available, they may or may not be open for lunch, and they may or may not be open for happy hour....sometimes the damn door is just locked. Is that the island way, "we open when we feel like it, mon!"
Opening at 3 p.m. is new. Hopefully that means they'll be open for HH from here on out. But for those making a special trip to this area at that time, you may want to have a plan B in mind. What time that door actually opens can be very random.
ETA: I do agree their chef does a great job.