Sunday, November 21, 2010

Restaurant Review: Irie Palace

We celebrated my dad's birthday (a bit late, but a celebration is a celebration!) last Friday with dinner at Irie Palace, a Jamaican restaurant on the north side of Milwaukee. I wanted to take my parents in particular here--over the years, we spent a few family vacations in Jamaica, and I knew they would enjoy the food, atmosphere and Red Stripe. I knew Nate would be up for it, too, as he'll give any place a try. (We also had a gift certificate to use--score!) I had been to Irie Palace last summer with my ethnic dining group of girlfriends. The food was fabulous--huge portions and good and spicy.

The menu is rather small, and some of the items are just served on certain days of the week. But sometimes a smaller menu makes decision making easier. We quenched our thirst with some Red Stripes, and for me, a bottle of Ting. Ting is a delicious grapefruit-flavored soda from Jamaica. I consumed MANY bottles of it while we vacationed in Jamaica, so it brought back good memories. (No matter what I do, I can't flip the pictures from my point-and-shoot camera!)

For appetizers, we each had one meat patty (the only appetizer on the menu). The menu says they have beef, chicken and vegetable patties, but on Friday they only had beef. There were no complaints for us, though--they were big, pipping hot, and had a good blend of meat and spices.

My mom, who asked the waitress for something that wouldn't be spicy, got the brown stew chicken. For whatever reason, I didn't think to take a picture of it or try a bite of it. She really liked it though, and said it was not spicy, which she appreciated.

My dad and I both ordered the same combo platter: jerk chicken and curry chicken. However, we ended up getting what Nate ordered: the combo platter of jerk chicken and oxtail.

We told the waitress about the mistake, and we said it wasn't a problem, we'd eat what we were served. Just a short time later, she brought us a plate of curry chicken (no picture, unfortunately) to try, which was must appreciated.

The jerk chicken, which I had had last time I was at Irie Palace, was as good as I remembered--lots of chicken (although there were lots of bones and sometimes a bit gristly) and nice and spicy. The sauce that came on the side made it extra spicy. The oxtail--which I had never had before--was pleasantly delicious. It, too, was bony and fatty, but the taste was great. It reminded me of one of my favorites, sauerbraten.

Each meal came with two sides--a bowl of white rice and beans (or just plain white rice) and cooked cabbage and carrots. Both sides were a nice complement to the spicy chicken. I'm not exactly sure what was all mixed with the vegetables (butter, maybe?), but it was a wonderful flavor. I remember having plantains with the vegetables last time I was at Irie Palace. I absolutely love plantains, so it's too bad they were missing this time.

After dinner, we sat at the bar and had some more Red Stripe. We talked with the bartender, J.D. ("Jamaican Dude"), who is a regular at Irie Palace and who is also the lead singer with a local reggae band, King Solomon. We had a great time talking to him. We talked to him about our travels to Ocho Rios--his hometown--and the hotel we used to stay at, which he, ironically, used to work for!

We had a great time, and my parents really enjoyed themselves as I knew they would. We'll definitely be back. if nothing else, I'll need another Ting fix at some point!

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