Thanks to the thousands of you who read our blog every month! After starting out solo in 2009, writing enthusiastically but sporadically, I invited Zena, Goddess of Fire to join in this study of our local food scene. She was game and we've been attracting a larger and larger audience ever since. We're glad you like food as much as we do, and we'd love it if you'd comment! If you use our restaurant reviews to choose where you are eating out, let us know about your experience - you might even want to link to your Yelp review. If we're doing a series and you want us to write about a particular spot, don't hesitate to let us know. The more conversations we can have about food the better, as far as we're concerned.
And now on to the regularly scheduled Caribbean fare:
Hot Spot on Central Ave. in a row of international restaurants is worthy of its location. The menu includes many island classics and it is self-described as "Jamaican American". You can see the menu and order online here. I've tried the online order service and it works perfectly. Their in-store service is polite, friendly and efficient. I've also stayed in their small but nice dining space and enjoyed the bustle of Central Ave. - the place is always busy in my experience.
First, as a helpful suggestion, they turned me on to red plum Nantucket Nectar, for which I will be eternally grateful.
Next, tucking in to their delicious oxtail is a lovely treat! The gravy has a greater spicy oomph than the other two Caribbean places I've reviewed thus far, and it's truly delicious and not overpowering in the least. It seems to be typical for the meat dishes to come with a small selection of sides, and so I have been favoring the plantains over a steamed cabbage or other side. There is still a bit of a sweet tone to the oxtail, most likely from the vegetables added during the simmering process. Overall the gravy at Hot Spot has a lovely balance of thyme, peppers and vegetables culminating in that seductive rich dark gravy. The plantains are more on the dry side which leaves them a bit less sweet, although still a great side dish. All I can say about the rice and peas is that they are wonderful and perfectly executed, so that they are a fitting complement to the oxtail. Rice and peas always say "comfort" for me, and I always look forward to the way they seem to perfectly complete the dish in a nom nom nom sort of way. I could have them every day and never tire of them, especially in the oxtail gravy!
In the photo I have plated the small size entree onto a small dinner plate, so you can see that it's still quite a hearty meal.
For those who haven't seen a Jamaican patty, I've put one at the back of the arrangement in the photo. I adore them. Most of the places I have seen offer a mild version, and they come in a variety of meats and vegetables. A bit more dry than a pot pie, they are a spicy and savory treat and can be carried in the hand. I would say they are very similar to an empanada, but with the distinctive seasonings of the Island.
LorreBob sez: check out the Hot Spot for that ultimate comforting savory and spicy fare.