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Jamaica House: Fire in the belly
Jamaica House is a small, unpretentious Jamaican restaurant in downtown Richmond near VCU where I went to school. I had never tried Jamaican food before and Nat convinced me they wouldn't serve me goat or anything like that. So, we went there one Friday night. It is in a sketchy neigborhood (3 days after we ate here, somebody got shot in front of it at lunchtime). Now I know why they close at 8pm even on Friday nights!
Favorite Dish: I had the stew beef, which was pretty spicy with the beans and rice and the salad (I liked the dressing). I also had a meat pie called an empanada and 2 bottles of orangeade. They told us that the pepper steak and the stew beef was mild. If that was mild, I'd hate to taste the jerk chicken! The food left a good taste in my mouth if also a fire in my belly.
Jamaica House: Taste of the islands
Jamaica House is a small restaurant west of downtown Richmond near the Virginia Commonwealth University Campus. There is limited seating and the ambience is simple: they serve food to eat there or to take away. However, on walking in the door, the accent of the Jamaican staff and smelling the aroma of the spices from the kitchen make you feel like you're in the islands. This was a nice contrast from the 56° (13°C) soggy night in Richmond. The staff is very friendly and the service is lightning fast. There are two unusual things about this restaurant. First, you pay up front before getting your meal. At most other places, you pay after and leave a tip. Second, it closes at 8pm, even on Friday and Saturday nights when most restaurants stay open until 10pm at least at the weekends.
Favorite Dish: I had the pepper steak which came with beans and rice and salad. The pepper steak is rather spicy, but not so spicy it can't be enjoyed. The rice was all right, but they assume everybody likes a reddish, somewhat sweet dressing on the salad. I didn't care for it: that was my only beef with this place. At most restaurants, folks get to decide what, if any, dressing they like on the salad. I had (non-alcoholic) Jamaican ginger beer to drink. It is rather like ginger ale in colour, but there is much more ginger here.
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