by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger for Vero Vine
As I would drive by this restaurant just off of 20th and 43rd Avenue, I would think to myself “that place sounds interesting, I should try it sometime”. Now I’m sorry that I didn’t try it sooner! I had the opportunity to try some of their food at the Top Chef preliminary event, and what I tasted there piqued my interest in going there to try more of those Caribbean flavors! A few weeks ago I stopped by for lunch and the food was amazing! Charles Cervone, Caribbean Kitchen’s owner and chef, started cooking out of his home. When demands for his food outgrew his home kitchen, he decided to open the restaurant. He faced many challenges, but with the help of his family and friends, Caribbean Kitchen opened a little over a year ago and is doing very well. I went back for dinner the other night and below are the dishes I tried during my visit.
I went for dinner on a Tuesday night and the place was not too busy. The dining room decor is simple with seating at the counter or in booths and the walls adorned with some colorful artwork. I sat at the far end of the counter and was promptly greeted and offered something to drink. As I browsed the menu, I realized that there were so many items that I wanted to try, that it was going to take a many visits to be able to do so. I placed my order and only had to wait a short time before my first plate was presented to me. Lets dive right in and see what I had to eat!
My dinner selections came with a small dinner salad and some steamed cabbage to start. The salad was a simple green salad with chopped tomato and cucumber with the chef’s house made balsamic dressing. It was thick, slightly sweet and tangy. I detected a hint of Italian seasonings in it. The lettuce was crisp and the vegetables were fresh. The steamed cabbage was cooked perfectly, and had a little bit of heat to it. Cooked cabbage can sometimes be bland, but this was really good!
Oxtail with Black Beans and Yellow Rice – ($12.00) – If you are a regular reader of my articles, you will know that oxtail is one of my favorite meats. I had it at the Top Chef finale and it was wonderful! The oxtail here is no exception. It was cooked until perfectly tender and the dark rich sauce over the top was fantastic! The meat is still on the bone, which adds additional flavor, but it also makes it a little more challenging to eat. I chose black beans and yellow rice as my sides and they were both delicious! The beans are cooked in a ham base, and have onions, garlic, cilantro, and the chef’s house made sofrito sauce. This is one dish that I would order again!
Ropa Vieja with Roman Beans and White Rice – ($10.00) – The smell from the Ropa was intoxicating! It reminded me of my grandmother’s stuffed peppers. It’s made with shredded beef and is in a tomato and pepper sauce that is absolutely delicious! The meat is very tender, and the tomato pepper sauce is very mild. The Roman Beans were fantastic. Made with cumin, onions, garlic, cilantro, and chorizo sausage, they had that slow simmered taste and were very tender!
Arroz Con Gandules – ($0.00) – The chef came over to my table during dinner and brought me a special treat to try. This is not something that is on his menu, and he only makes it occasionally. It’s called Arroz Con Gandules, or also known as Rice & Pigeon Peas. It has onions, garlic, peppers, and pigeon peas, along with the chef’s house made sofrito sauce. Unfortunately it’s not on the menu, but it should be, it was that good!
Sweet Plantains – ($2.50) – To complete my meal, I decided to try his Sweet Plantains, and I was not disappointed. They were fried perfectly with a slight crunch to the outside, and the inside was soft and sweet! A really nice way to round out a fantastic meal!
If you’re like me, always driving by and saying that this place looked interesting, NOW is the time to stop and give them a try. They get great reviews from everyone I’ve talked to, and the food could not be more authentic. The chef takes great pride in the food he prepares and it shows with every bite.
Atmosphere – 4 Forks
Service – 5 Forks
Food – 5 Forks
Ratings Scale Legend:
1 to 5 Forks – 1 Bad to 5 Excellent