Friday, 15 May 2009

Jerk City


Jerk Chicken with rice and peas at £8.50. Sadly the rice was dry and undercooked but the jerk chick was blisteringly spicy. The chicken at Jerk City has always been tough and chewy but I don’t mind that, as I’m Malaysian. Whether one’s in Hackney or Southwark and let alone Oxford Street, Caribbean food IMO has always been overpriced in London…why, why why?

Takeaway supper for tonight.
The fried chicken here is pure soul food unlike this one.
fried saltfish dumpling.
Comforting and delicious.


Caribbean dream in the heart of London

The thing that infuriated me greatly today was I actually walked into Jerk City. I hardly ever saunter along Wardour Street as I prefer to head to Chinatown or any of my fave coffee bars via the usual route of (What's the Story) Morning Glory? Street. Jerk City has been in business for more than ten years and I’ve ungracefully ignored its existence during all this time. I was egged on to try the place out by Hollowlegs; a sound endorsement, so thank you Lizzie.

I’m going to jump the gun and proclaim that Caribbean cuisine is one of the sleeping giants of world cuisine. Quite simply this kind of cooking has a universal appeal, anyone and everyone (except perhaps vegans, sorry yet again!) can eat and enjoy it without doing a sodding Brian Sewell. The alarming thing with Caribbean cuisine is that the pitiful number of its restaurants in London simply doesn’t reflect the population of the African Caribbean community. I believe that part of the reason is probably down to the ‘why bother when Momma cooks better’ mentality among the said peeps. If only more of this type of food is made available in London in place of certain three letter chicken joints (and fellow copycats) or fake Thai joints, then I’ll be wholly chuffed to bits.

The queues at lunchtimes can be off-putting, persevere nonetheless, as it's worth the hassle. If one intends to dine here, do take heed of the rather erratic service otherwise I noted the staff were friendly and warm. The idea is to order what you want from the menu board and pay at the front counter before setting yourself down in the dining room.

A small skylight gingerly lights the darkish room and its walls are decorated by what’s now a common feature in bars and restaurants in London, paintings or prints for sale (not my cuppa and most certainly Mr Sewell as well).

A cream soda made by the same company who makes Red Stripe beer. Methinks a most appropriate quencher that compliments any dishes that include the wonderful Scotch bonnet.

Fried Chicken and Chicken Patty
I’m a sucker for this type of fried chicken, as far as I’m concerned this is soul food. The piece of chicken tasted wonderfully peppery and none too greasy.
The patty was extremely spicy, you know the tongue and mouth on fire effect! Enjoyed this street food staple but felt the filling was not entirely generous, but heck it’s only £1.50.

Curry Mutton with Rice and Peas.

Technically speaking the prime dish should be known as Curried Goat, but knowing that most Londoners possess an unadventurous disposition, they’ll probably scarper at the mere mention of goat! This curry tasted unique, and the spicy flavour is milder than a vindaloo but more on par with let’s say a Jalfrezi. The lamb mutton pieces were extremely tender. The rice and peas with its mauve hue looked and tasted authentic (yes Sybil, I’ve tasted real Jamaican tuck before, homecooked and all in SE13). This is the medium sized portion I had, I cannot fathom what the large one looks like.

I like the place, the food is hearty, perfectly edible and for Central London, dirt-cheap. Must come back for the huge bowls of soups (noticed everyone had them today), jerk chicken, saltfish and ackee, and ariston so on. By enlarge I’m still infuriated that I hadn't discovered Jerk City earlier. Highly recommended.

NB this place has also, rather unfortunately I would say, a cheap and nasty looking chicken as its logo, it doesn’t do itself any justice, so ignore it. It’s also precariously close to a rival outfit known as Savannah Jerk (previously Mr Jerk), Jerk City is allegedly the bee's knees.
***for some reason the seats are disturbingly sticky, am I going mad or something?***

189 Wardour Street
London W1F 8ZD


Helen said...

Every year there is a 'jerk cook off' in the gardens of the Horniman Museum. It is definitely worth a visit for trying out all the best caribbean places at once. I've had some fantastic jerk there - I go every year! That picture of Brian Sewell nearly made me spit out my breakfast by the way - gross.

bellaphon said...

Morning Helen, thanks for the tip-off re. Horniman Museum, I shall keep me eyes peeled.

Brian Sewell, he's alright really.

Anonymous said...

I went here about a year ago, a friend of mine's office was over the way, and he insisted on coming...

....i got a dodge stomach after and have never been back :(

maybe I should give them another go! oh and speaking of "thai" places, I have been told on good authoritah that Busaba Thai is quite good, and food quality is consistent across all branches....

...the person that told me has gone as far to say its one of the best thai's in London, I too am of the mentality - momma makes good food, why eat out (when I can go to her restaurant)? :D

Hollow Legs said...

"The thing that infuriated me greatly today was I actually walked into Jerk City" - this sounds like you had a terrible time!

Glad you liked it. I love the place - the saltfish patties are great, although never have I managed one AND a main. I must go to the jerk cook off - I love the stuff!

Apparently the owner of Savannah Jerk was a partner at Mr Jerk (which is what Jerk City used to be called). Why he'd open up next door, who knows.

Hollow Legs said...

By the way - where in SE13 please?

bellaphon said...

CB- Dodgy tummy trouble can indeed put you off a joint for life! I've a quibble with Thai restaurants in London or UK for that matter, they just don't cut the mustard and I'll be damned if see a Thai person scoffing at Busaba! But then again if Thai food were to be served in its pure authentic form, it'll be too much for non-Thais. Catch 22...

bellaphon said...

Lizzie- infuriated because I didn't appreciate it earlier.
A customer of mine invited me to his abode in SE13 for a full blown Jamdown feast cooked by his wife, mother, sisters, aunties, etc.

kerstin said...

Anything for non meat eaters Fat Les?
Can you recommend a thai resto?
Haven't seen you since the Real Food festival and even then you were being enigmatic!

bellaphon said...

MML- 'bout time for another m-eat up. I shall tap on your shoulder soon.

There's apparently a Thai cafe in Leytonstone frequented by their own folks, I'm going to check it out in due course.

Hollow Legs said...

Ms Marmite Lover - They do saltfish and ackee which is also delicious.

Anonymous said...

A lot of West Indian colleagues frequent this establishment so I went along with some friends and food was generally okay. I returned a few weeks later on Sat 15 Nov and took a seat. Next thing, there is a scream and a teenager has her legs up on the chair shouting that there is a mouse...needless to say her family walked out. I had already ordered my food and calmly ate my dinner. I am relieved to say I can report that I did not have a dodgy stomach but I will not be visiting this eaterie again!