Can Cook, Must Cook

The food adventures of Franka P, a Trinidadian journalist living in London, UK. I'll write about my forays into all types of food and cooking, particularly Caribbean food. I'll also review books and recipes by the leading food writers and talk about the issues making headlines in the gastronomic world.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Less food please?

Mr Jerk's oxtail with rice and peasI'm not usually one to complain about generous servings but when Bonnie and I went to Mr Jerk the other day, we were both stunned by the stevedore-sized portions.
Essentially, Mr Jerk does what it says on the tin, it serves Jerk dishes and other Jamaican favourites.

The restaurant is known for hearty Jamaican food like patties, jerk chicken, ackee and saltfish and brown stew fish.
One evening after work, Bonnie and I went to the Wardour Street branch in Central London to see what we could 'nyam'.

This is where I begin to complain. The guy taking orders at the counter was not welcoming at all. He was gruff, abrupt and didn't give good advice about items on the menu.
We ignored this and soldiered on anyway. Now Mr Jerk is a takeaway as well as a sit down restaurant. It is small and awkwardly shaped so you could find yourself jammed up against a post or stuck in a corner with little space to manoeuvre. This is not the place you want to be spreading out for a leisurely meal.
Unfortunately, they were out of salt fish dumplings and fried plantains that we had hoped to start with. I thought coco bread sounded interesting so I consulted Mr Man at the counter who told me it was something that you eat with patties. So thinking he would know best, Bonnie and I ordered coco bread and patties.
It was not a wise choice. Coco bread is a big bread roll, and what Mr Man didn't explain was that the bread was cut like a sandwich and the patty stuck in the middle – yes, Jamaican Patties sandwich.
The patties were quite delicious but how in heaven's name could you serve a patty sandwich? That is as anachronistic as the 'chips butty' much loved by people up and down the UK.
I didn't eat the whole starter, because there wouldn't be space for the main course of braised oxtail with rice and peas. When the young lady came with the food, I was speechless for a few moments because I couldn't believe the amount of food that was on the plate! Talk about heaping platefuls!
The food itself was absolutely delicious. The oxtail was unctuous and succulent and the rice and peas was also excellent. Bonnie's pepper steak with hard food (provisions to Trinis) was great as well. The beef was like butter, she could have cut it with a spoon.
You might wonder why I'm complaining about the portion sizes, but I had a look around at the plates other people left behind and none of them were empty because no one could get through the mountains of food. I would think this is a real waste of money for the restaurant.
I guess if they're selling equally large servings in a takeaway container, it's good for the customer who could either share the meal or eat some and save the rest for another time.
In a way, it was a good thing we had lots of food to take away, because those leftovers were put to good use. On the platform at Piccadilly Circus tube station, we saw a homeless guy sitting with his dog and holding a 'homeless and hungry' sign. Usually, I don't give beggars anything, as I prefer to give to the charities but this guy looked honest and the poor dog looked so forlorn.
When I took the two containers to him, I said I had no money but just food. He was totally chuffed and said, "no worries, the food is better". I'm glad Mr Jerk's food didn't go to waste.

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  • At 20:22, Blogger Petit said…

    Hilarious! Sounds like the Jamaican place somewhere to the north of Oxford St. which brought the 2 plates of food one at a time with half an hour in between, and then brought the knives and forks.


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