Jerk chicken: Enough said

This week’s article was admittedly a bit difficult to write because *drumroll please* it’s my last food review of the semester!

Although taking on the role of food critic during the winter was probably not the greatest of ideas (hibernating + eating out every week = no shedding that Christmas weight), spring is finally here, and I can finally go back to eating without a superior sense of power. Sigh. I will miss it.

For my final venture, I decided to go way out of my comfort zone to a cuisine I’ve never tried before: Jamaican food, at downtown Kitchener’s Ellison’s Bistro. Decorated with stellar Internet reviews, I was curious to see what this little establishment would do for me.

Upon entering, I was immediately surprised by how tiny the place was. A narrow rectangle filled with ornate chandeliers and the obligatory Bob Marley music, my friend and I only just managed to wrangle the last table that wasn’t reserved. I was glad we’d arrived early, as soon enough people were being turned away from the door.

Personally greeted by the waitress and the chef, Elvis, he shortly returned with freshly baked warm bread, a nicety too often lost in the modern restaurant.

The roll turned out to be deliciously flaky and buttery, working perfectly to sate my appetite.

Ordering the $12 jerk chicken, as well as the curiously named sweet potato pudding for dessert, I looked forward with anticipation to the rest of the meal.

I wasn’t disappointed. When the jerk chicken arrived, it was a sight for sore eyes. Beautifully presented, the chicken was insanely tender as I cut into it, the skin well-spiced and peppery, but only just enough to leave a little tingle on your tongue.

The rest of the dish proved a perfect complement to the chicken, with deeply complex gravy, rich roasted potatoes, and vegetables that provided much needed crunch and texture to support its softer companions. And at $12, the generous quantity and quality of the dish definitely made it worth the trek.

After the success of the dish, I wondered what a sweet potato pudding could possibly look or taste like — perhaps something orange-ish because, er, sweet potato, right? I was therefore surprised I received something that resembled … chocolate mousse?

Don’t get me wrong, the presentation was fine enough: a simple swirl of syrup and strategically placed berries. However, I found the pudding itself very hard to pin down in terms of flavour.

Notes of raisins, currants, and citrus emerged, and I regret to say that I am actually not a fan of the former two. I could also only guess that the sweet potato lent itself more to the pudding’s density because I could barely taste it.

Finally, the pudding’s grainy texture and strangely soft, mousse/jelly-like consistency proved less than desirable to me, even if the berries did help lighten its assertive flavours.

Aside from the dessert though, Ellison’s Bistro was a pleasant, homely experience, where you can take your time with your meal. The staff really go out of their way to give you a pleasant experience. I would definitely go back, but maybe next time, I’ll just get a safe cream puff instead.


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