To make up for not spending much time in our neighborhood dining establishments as of late, I made an effort to hit a few of them yesterday as the wife and I did kind of an eating melange.
We started by heading west on Thayer and hitting Safeway. Wait a second, we just picked up a prescription there so that doesn't really count. But with pills in hand we could see our first score of the afternoon - Negril. We had been to Negril (965 Thayer Ave) years ago, but wanted to give them a second look and really see what they had to offer.
I know most folks who eat there are going for their meat dishes, but since I know they're not serving happy meat, we opted for a couple veggie dishes and one seafood item. Since we knew we wanted to hit other spots in the 'hood we didn't want to order too much, but we did end up with a substantial amount of food. We tried one entree, the veg roti, and then two apps, a veg patty and the fried cod cakes. As described on the menu, roti is carrots, potatoes, plantain, pumpkin, cabbage, mixed vegetables, kidney beans, chickpeas and coconut cream in a stew, wrapped in a pancake-like dough.
I can certainly say the dish was filling, but even with all those veggies, it lacked any real flavor - no pizazz . It really needed the add hot sauce and a couple other sauces that were provided to help it out. The cod cakes were also substantial, three for about $2.95. However the cakes can almost be considered a vegan dish given the amount - or lack thereof - of cod that was found inside the deep fried balls. Again, another filling, but not a terribly flavorful item. The veg patty ended up being the best of the lot. It contained the same veggies as the roti, but they were served inside a flaky turnover. All in all a fairly disappointing experience. I would go back to try a couple of the other seafood items, but maybe this place is mainly meant to chow down on flesh.
Next on the list for us was Señor, excuse me, Mr. Chicken (8408 Georgia Ave). We knew we would not partake in their poultry dishes (again, not serving happy chicken), but we wanted to see what else they were serving. There were plenty of sides from which to make a meal, but neither of us were very hungry after our Jamaican starters. But we bore down and ordered more food. We tried the black beans, the yucca and their cole slaw.
The black beans were quite tasty and we were told they were completely vegetarian. I'd definitely get them again. They were even better when you took a spoonful of their green sauce and added that into the mix. Yummy. Now the yucca were pretty good, better when dipped in the beans, but the cole slaw was too sweet and had way too much mayo. There were a few other non-meat sides we could have tried if we had room -- rice, tortillas (5 for $1.50 - not home-made though), and plantains. I definitely would have considered an empanada, but they all had chicken in them.
They've done a nice job with the space. It is nicely decorated and clean. The folks who were serving customers were friendly and their prices were reasonable. I'll likely be back. And if they did ever serve happy poultry I'd be all over Mr. Chicken.
Since we were right next door, we figured a sweet from Velatis was in order. We noticed they are now serving home-made cupcakes. While they looked good, we opted for a few chocolate chewies with almonds, some sea salt caramels and a sea salt chocolate turtle. We took these for home though as we were both about to bust at this point.
But that did not stop us from checking out the new and improved Roger Miller Restaurant at 941 Bonifant. You all remember them well, right?
A few months back, RM did close and a Casa de Pollo was on its way to replace it. While the pollo place did open, it did not last long and now the folks who previously ran RM are back to run it again.
They have kept the chicken on the menu. But when I asked, I was told the chicken really wasn't Peruvian-style, but chicken with a lot of African spices. In addition, they are serving essentially all the dishes the old RM used to serve. And while you may not be able to read it, the entire right side of this outdoor menu are vegetarian dishes. Many of them sounded quite good -- Spinach Delight, Okra Stew, Ndolle (a bitter leaf soup), and of course, the Ayaba Special. I remember seeing lines around the block on the nights when the Ayaba Special was being served. Yes, fond memories. And now it is back!!
According to the sign, the Fearless Food critic gave RM the best food award for 2009. However, I have not been able to ID this critic and am a bit dubious of the award. Anyway, I am glad RM has returned. I'll be making my way over soon to try a couple of their non-meat dishes.