On a quest for some great jerk up in Harlem, I stumbled into Paradise. Is it paradise for Jerk? Well, when I came in to the restaurant, the first thing the proprietor said to me was “It’s a little dry.” The thing that disturbed me was the way she said it so matter-of-factly as if all Jerk Chicken was supposed to be dry.
For the record; it is not.
This got me to thinking about why black people often order their steak well-done. I had a black friend give me a theory behind this. He told me that he and his friends grew up with their parents cooking everything quite thoroughly. They got used to things that were overcooked and developed a taste for it.
The reason that he said that it was at that temperature is because the parents weren’t sure of the quality of the meat. They wanted to make sure all of the bacteria was dead before they served it to their children. Then it trickles down to their children, and their children’s children, and you get this whole era of people preferring their steak well done and waiters looking at black people funny when they order their steak.
Working at a steakhouse in Rockville, Maryland, I was guilty of this sin more than a few times, but I judged anyway. Why would you ruin a perfectly good steak by ordering it well-done. I’m here to tell all of the African-Americans in the audience that it is now OK to order your steak medium-rare. There is nothing to fear as far as illness is concerned, you’ll know about any e-coli flare ups on @CNNBRK before you eat any bad meat.
So my call on the Jerk Chicken here, skip it. I have to say, I went at an odd time (Saturday around 4PM), so it might simply be a function of when I ordered it. Now I know why critics go to a restaurant three or four times before they review them, but I don’t really have that luxury.
The Beef Patty was also a bit dry. I’ve never had a beef patty that was made to order. I wonder where they even make these? I’d love to see Danny Meyer’s take on the beef patty.
Nice and spicy, hot as hell, but too similar to the ones at 7-11. I felt like these weren’t made at the restaurant.
Now for the good stuff. No, not good, great. The Curried Goat. It was exceptional. I think I just love me some curried goat. I’ve only had this dish twice and both times, I’ve fucking loved it. If you don’t know goat, you need to discover this quickly. It’s like a spicy, peppery yellow curry, it was stewed with some vegetables and a throwaway salad. You MUST, absolutely MUST ask for extra goat sauce with your meal. Make sure you get it all over the rice and beans they give you. Salsa de barbacoa? I think that’s how you ask for it. Seriously, though, I urge you to Vote Goat.
Holy fuck. I’ve been searching for this restaurant online for the last 10 minutes and I couldn’t find it anywhere online. It’s not on Yelp, not on google, there’s no reference to it anywhere, except here. So there you are my foodie friends, a discovery of some fantastic curried goat on the island for all the web-enabled gentrifiers looking for some great Carribbean food with a caveat …
Don’t get the jerk.
Paradise Grove Caribbean Restaurant
2163 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10029
Phone? I don’t know, man.
I’d have to agree with your friend’s theory. Especially those of us who emigrated from the West Indies. There’s still reason to be cautious in some areas.But I’m happy to report my conversion to medium rare by a chef friend’s flank steak salad. And, well, that just led to tartare and carpaccio.
And aren’t you glad that you know carpaccio? I fucking love that stuff. That’s one of my go to items on a third date – tuna carpaccio. We used to have it at this restaurant I worked at with some thin flatbread – god it was delicious.
It’s so funny that you said that about the steak, because I didn’t really think white people noticed. My dad is straight from Jamaica, and in my house, we grew up gawking at white people who ate their steak “raw” as he called it (anything less than well done). I can’t even tell him I eat my steak medium now (that’s still the furthest I can go, and I feel like a rule-breaking rebel just for that). He would faint just to hear the words.
Another reason for the “overcooking” though, is that in West Indian food, it’s ALL about low and slow. Any Jamaican restaurant you go to will start cooking at 6 am, but not serve food until 11. Everything has to simmer and stew down for hours before it’s “done.” That’s why most of the meats come in thick sauces. That goat sauce you ate? Probably took a good three or four hours to prepare. Jamaican food is an all day ordeal, and no self-respecting Jamaican will serve you anything without letting the spices meld in the sauce for at least a couple hours.
And about the beef patties. This place probably ordered them frozen just like the 7-11 does. Not a lot of places bake their own patties. It’s very time consuming. Most places will use Golden Krust patties or order them from a wholesale patty supplier in the area. If you want really good, fresh patties, you have to go to a Jamaican BAKERY. Usually they have the same foods you get at the restaurants too, sometimes it’s better.
My favorite Jamaican restaurant I grew up going to in New York is Nakisaki. Also important, the best Jamaican restaurants are Jamaican-Chinese restaurants. That’s just how it is. There’s one of these in Queens and one in Hempstead in Long Island. Jean’s in Hollis is good too. Try the lemonade. They get a lot of Jamaican celebrities there.
And jerk chicken isn’t supposed to be dry by the way. That’s just code for “sorry but somebody burnt di food today.”
Most insightful comment ever! Good observations. I need to try one of those Jamaican Chinese joints. Jean’s in Hollis? I’m going, that’s all there is to it!
Is this on Second Ave because the Google map shows it to be at Malcolm X and 111th str.
It sounds awesome
I’m Jamaican-American and I spent most of my life eating overcooked meat… until I married an white man who used to be a chef. Now, I find my mother’s (and other black people’s) cooking waaay overcooked… especially with seafood! For the record, a lot of Sicilians like their meat well done, too!
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