Ricky and I have eaten the $200 dollar steak dinners and have tasted desserts that look like miniature works of art, but some of our most memorable experiences have been at hole-in-the walls, tasting new and delicious food with locals. This weekend, we trekked back to our old stomping grounds to eat authentic jerk chicken at The Islands in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.
When Ricky and I arrive, we are surprised to find that it is quite literally a hole in the wall, the bottom floor consists of just a counter top and kitchen. The waiter asks if we would like to eat there and points us upstairs to a room that is, if possible, even smaller than the first floor. I try to get to an empty table, knocking chairs and bumping into other diners as I make my way. I turn around worried about how my 6’2 tall boyfriend will manage only to see him nestled snuggly, wedged between the table and the wall. The things this kid will do for good food.
We order the large Oxtail platter that comes with rice and beans, salad, and cabbage. The oxtail, saucy and flavorful, falls off the bone and is amazing with the tender rice. Best of all, we got a HUGE plate for just $15.00.
Their signature dish is the Jerk Chicken, just as ginormous and only $12.00, also accompanied by rice and beans, salad, and cabbage. The rub on the chicken is spiceful, not too hot and so juicy and tasty. Everything just worked together so well with the spice from the meat, the mellowness of the cabage, the sweetness of the salad and the starchiness of the rice and beans. If this is what people in the Caribbean eat every day, then pack me in a shipping crate and send me over express.
We also overheard a lot (A LOT) of people talk about how good the mac n cheese is there. So much so that we almost ordered it to go. Good thing we came to our senses because by the end of the meal, I was so full jerk chicken was coming out of my nose. It truly is a great value.
Comfort food like this is, in my opinion, some of the hardest dishes to get right. The ingredients are basic and making it is just as simple, but when it’s done right… I whoosh into my childhood like Anton Ego after his first bite of Ratatouille.