Scotchies

Falmouth Road, Montego Bay, Jamaica • +1 876-953-8041 • scotchies.restaurantsnapshot.com
 

Widely considered a jerk chicken legend, Scotchies manages to pack them in from locals to tourists and from sit down to take-out. What I love about the place is that it’s far from touristy. Mostly because I think it would scare them off. It’s a down and dirty roadside shack that seems to have sprouted some outdoor tables and a roof deck.

And while it is definitely an experience, I have to say this chalks up as one of those legends that is better left a myth. The chicken and pork were both dry as the Sahara. Fallout, I’d imagine from the rather archaic grilling method of bamboo grills and a corrugated sheet of aluminum as the lid (pictured). Fortunately though, it was nothing a little jerk sauce couldn’t spice up and moisten in compensation. But the only truly great dish was the roasted fish. I also enjoyed the yams, but everything else from the rice and peas to the breadfruit to the festival (banana and flour) all came off very dry.

The other thing that kinda (sarcasm) took away from the experience was when the machete-wielding cook confronted us for his own tip, asking us why we didn’t give him his own gratis like we did for the waitress? Obviously, this isn’t customary on the island, just as it isn’t a tradition anywhere else in the world, including the most tip-happy culture on earth- America. It is, however, very customary to leave the restaurant with all of your limbs still attached to your body, so we succumbed to the extortion and probably won’t be back here again any time soon.

BBQ Chicken

25 W 32nd StNew York, NY 10001 • (212) 967-8093 • bbqktownnyc.com

Welcome to the Korean Pret of fried chicken. A confusing, and yet surprisingly accurate description made only more confusing by the name, because there’s very little barbecue to speak of. That said, there is chicken in virtually every imaginable sauce you could want, fried, jerk, barbecue (naturally), grilled, thai, coconut, general tso, sesame, honey, spicy. It’s like Forrest Gump talking about shrimp. All pre-made for a quick grab-n-go mission (hence my Pret comparison) or there is a pretty extensive amount of seating if you want to sit and take in the rather nonexistent decor. It’s also very reasonably priced by Manhattan standards, making it one of the only options for lunch in the area under $20.

But here’s the thing, the bowls are all pretty damn yummy. Some served up with rice and potatoes. Others with rice and veggies like their bibimbap. And some are just piled high with poultry. But all of them are surprisingly good. They have other things as well, but chicken is clearly their bailiwick. Oh, and best of all, they have beer! Take that Pret!

Cha Cha Chicken

1906 Ocean Ave. Santa Monica, CA 90405(310) 581-1684chachachicken.com

 19-1

Perched in the middle of a Bermuda Triangle made from posh Santa Monica hotels like Shutters, Casa del Mar and The Viceroy sits a bit of an odd bird. A chicken to be precise. Named Cha Cha. Which is technically Cuban by origin, but they serve pan-Caribbean fare, including jerk chicken. And it’s served up with such islandy vibe you almost feel like you’re on an island. The weather obviously helps a lot with this, especially because it’s only outdoor seating, similar to Cora’s down the block.

But what makes Cha Cha so odd is that it almost looks like a shack. Not unlike Chez Jay’s, also down the block. But Chez at least has the excuse of having been the first establishment on Ocean Avenue, so one might consider it grandfather in. Whereas Cha Cha came along much later, only about 15 years ago. But whatever works, right?

And it definitely works. As a fun, affordable departure from the more refined eating destinations that are abound in Santa Monica and Venice. Among the pan-Caribbean offerings, you’ll find a few Mexican influences that find their way into their “pan” as well. For example the jerk chicken enchiladas. Call it Jamexican. Served with a spicy-sweet pineapple habanero sauce. Get it with beans and rice, along with some fried plantains and you’ll be dancing the cha-cha. Mostly because in LA Caribbean eats are hard to come by. But by East Coast standards Cha Cha is just So So. The flavors get a little mushy and the jerk could stand a little more Cha, if you catch my drift.

3 teeth

Miss Lily’s

132 W Houston St. New York, NY 10012(646) 588-5375misslilysnyc.com

corn-a-500x375

I’m a huge fan of jerk chicken and this will do the trick if you are in the hood and have a craving. Not sure I would make a special trip, however. It’s nothing you can’t get from a host of other Jamaican joints in the city who do it MUCH better. And my one major gripe with Lily is that her jerk is woefully un-spicy. Blasphemy as far as I’m concerned. Jerk should be packing MUCH more heat almost by law. Like Golden Crust or Island Spice. This is not to say that Lily’s jerk is bland, however. It’s just not what you expect when you are mentally preparing your mouth for battle royale.

The jerk corn, on the other hand is very solid (pictured), and messy as all get out. Still not spicy, but mighty fine by all accounts. As are the plantains.

And now for a twist… The best thing of all, interestingly enough, was not actually made by Lily, but rather by her juice bar partner, Melvin’s Juice Box. I highly recommend. So fresh and bursting with vitamins you feel like you are sucking them right out of the plant through a straw.

3 teeth

5Church

127 N Tryon St. Ste 8 Charlotte, NC 28202(704) 919-13225church.com

-1

From the moment you walk in the door you feel like you might be in NYC as opposed to NC. The décor and energy are both great. Modern industrial with very unique lighting fixtures, a bit of a brocade vibe and the entire novel “The Art of War” is written in chalk on the ceiling- presumably not to be outdone by Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.

Service was good. And the food impressive, depending on what you got. So choose wisely. Here’s a list to help you do just that…

First, the starters. Skip the jerk chicken lettuce wraps. They do not live up to the heat of their Jamaican roots. The wedge salad is a solid good. But the perogies were my favorite. Nothing was sensational, however, just yet.

But the lamb burger, now that’s a different story. So well seasoned with a complex blend of herbs and spices. The cheese. The bun. It was excellent. The fries were also pretty great, but less fry-like and more like a 2×4 of potato. And the sauce they give you to dip them in is a beautiful aioli of flavors. I put it on my burger too.

As for dessert, completely skip the Peanut Butter cake. Not worth it. And the Banana Pudding is just okay. But the S’More- ohh the s’more.  It’s campfire heaven in a glass.

So, 5 Church gets 3 knives. A touch hit and miss, with a slight edge going to the hits.

3 teeth