Last weekend, a friend and I visited Shaw’s Jamaican Kitchen to see what kind of grub this place is serving up. Located walking distance from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point just off of Stanley Street, we experienced both good and bad in the little cozy atmosphere.
We arrived and were greeted by a woman that appeared to be the only staff member in the restaurant. There was no music, nor sound coming from a TV set to the Disney Channel. We placed our order and sat down at a booth among the plastic flowers placed at every table.
The tables themselves were comfortable, though nothing fancy. There were a few high tables, a few low and a few booths. The whole restaurant appeared clean, though the table was sticky. Colors of the Jamaican flag, yellow, green and black covered the walls. It was cozy.
Our food came out fast. Immediately impressed, I was just as quickly deflated when I realized that the food was cooked in advance and later reheated. This was confirmed when my friend grumbled about a part of her jerk chicken still being cold. I had ordered the curried goat. Both plates had the same side, and both had pooling grease on the bottom of the plates.
The goat was falling off the bone. I would have had no qualms with it if I didn’t have to spit out small bits of bone. The chicken was good. It was served with a hot BBQ sauce that was less than impressive. With the simplicity of making sauces from scratch, I always wonder why restaurants opt out for Costco brands or the equivalent.
Sometime during the meal we were greeted with the stench of burning oil. Shortly after, the sizzle of food cooking in a fryer sounded from the back of the kitchen. A rule about cooking with oil states that when it starts to smell bad, it is time to be replaced. I was surprised at how much I could have told the cook from my observations from the dining area, but I chose to stay quiet.
The sides were just as much a mixed bag. One was cabbage with carrots and bell peppers, good but neutral. It was not spiced or flavored in any particular way, just a basic staple. The red beans and rice were not good. As is often the case with rice, the cook did not salt the rice water. This creates rice as exciting as boiled cabbage.
Apart from the main dishes, we also shared a soda called Ting. It was, as my companion stated, just a soda. To me, it tasted like ginger ale with lime. Everything together cost 30 dollars (for two people), not including gratuity. In my opinion, the quality was on par for five dollars per plate.
Overall, it was too expensive, had no choices of sides, and was cooked in advance. On the bright side, it came out fast, the servings were large, and the atmosphere was cozy. Looking down at the plate after I finished eating, I realized it was comfort food.