The Jamaican Jerk Hut

(JJH. Philadelphia, PA. Photo by Robin. May 2007)

Last night M and I went to Philadelphia to meet up with friends for dinner. We had a wonderful evening. It was great, great fun.

We had dinner at the Jamaican Jerk Hut (JJH) on South Street. They don’t have their own website so here are the details:

Jamaican Jerk Hut
1436 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19146
(215) 545-8644

The photo I took doesn’t do it justice as it’s missing the best part. The JJH is mostly a take-out place during the winter months. Once the weather warms up, they serve food in the garden area.

It’s a nifty little place. To the left, where you see the chain-link fence, you walk into the “garden” area which is really just a grassy empty lot. There’s a little sign that reads “Stay on the path” and a boardwalk pathway through the garden area. There are a few picnic tables set up outside. At the back is a wall where various vines and trees are being allowed to wildly grow. There’s also a veranda area, which is where we had dinner.

It’s a great place to meet up with friends. Groups are comfortably seated (we had a party of six). Dress is casual (always a plus with me).

It was hot yesterday evening (around 90 degrees when we arrived), but there was a nice breeze blowing through the garden and nobody seemed to mind the heat. In fact, it was almost perfect weather for dining outdoors in a Jamaican themed restaurant. Very tropical.

The reviews I’ve read online complain about the service being slow. It’s true. The service is a little slow by most people’s standards.  However, don’t take that to mean inattentive.   Our waitress was perfectly attentive, there when we needed her but not hovering over us all the time.

We were there to spend time with friends, not be rushed through our meal. I thought the service was just right as it allowed us plenty of time to talk and laugh and enjoy each other’s company, as well as some nice wine. The JJH is a BYOB place. They charge a small corkage fee, but it’s very small compared to some places we’ve been to.

The food, in my opinion, was excellent. I had the Jerk chicken breast platter which came with Jamaican cabbage, rice and peas (pigeon peas), and plantains. The chicken was tender, juicy, smoky, and delightfully hot and spicy. The side dishes were quite good, too. The cabbage wasn’t overcooked, still retaining some crispness. The rice and peas had a nice flavor. And the plantains were yummy. All portions were more than generous.

Two of our friends had the vegetarian sampler platter. Both commented on how good everything was and how each dish had a distinctly different flavor, something that’s not always the case with vegetarian stews as it seems like some chefs use the same spices over and over again so that everything on the plate tastes pretty much the same. I sampled a little of the cornbread which one of our friends ordered. I’m not a big fan of cornbread, but the JJH’s cornbread could turn me into one. It was moist and slightly sweet with obvious kernels of corn throughout.

I’m sure it’s fairly obvious by now that I highly recommend the Jamaican Jerk Hut. Next time you’re in Philadelphia, give it a try.

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