In a display of mercy, a work event of mine ended last week at a little Jamaican restaurant in North Hollywood called Coley’s. As it turned out, one of my bosses had been Jamaican all along, but none of us knew it. Yet, Jamaican boss or not, I had been wanting to check out Coley’s for a long time, as it sat in that weird area of town that seemed just a bit far for walking, but too close to hop in a car for.
In any case, work had decided to spot us some drinks and something called “patties.” A patty is essentially the Jamaican version of an empanada, in that it’s a pocket of dough stuffed with meat. The dough takes on a sort of orange tint and the whole thing is fried up, rather than baked. The dough is flaky and pastry-like which provides for a nice contrast of texture with the minced meat inside. Despite showing up to the patty dispensary late to the game, I managed to get myself a beef one and found it was quite delicious. It was spiced to give a bit of a kick, but also had some other great flavors in there. And even better, I couldn’t find one vegetable inside.
While the beer and patty were nice, they would certainly not be enough to get me through the rest of the day. I decided to fend for myself from their regular menu to make myself a full meal. The waitress told me there was a Jerk Chicken lunch special and I figured there could be no better way to test out Jamaican food.
When that eventually came, the plate of food looked like it had come right out of the Caribbean. In addition to the chicken, the plate was loaded with steamed rice, fried plantains, “festival bread” and steamed veggies. I had neglected to notice the veggies on the menu, so I won’t hold them against Coley’s, but I still wasn’t happy that they had been an option. Anyway, I dug into the chicken and found that unique flavor associated with jerk chicken. In the past, I had only eaten jerk chicken in its dry form, but this was served wet and it kept the chicken incredibly moist and tender. It had a mild kick and slightly smokey taste to go along with it. The festival bread was almost like a donut, in that it was fried and light, but wasn’t sweetened. The plantains were also different from any fried plantains I had ever had. In a contrast to the chicken, these were dry and edible by hand. Usually fried plantains can be really sweet, but these were much more relaxed and made a nice addition to the meal.
So this was pretty much a good experience, except that when the bill came I found that I had been charged for the regular portion of Jerk Chicken and not the lunch special. This was no good, and the woman told me that the regular portion was bigger. As I had eaten everything on my plate that didn’t start with v and end with egetable, I wasn’t in a position to complain, but I was still annoyed at paying an extra couple of bucks. I know things were a bit crazy with the sheer number of people there, but my order still should have been correct. If only it had been wrong in a more obvious way that I would have known when it arrived.
Alas, I still recommend Coley’s. I’m not exactly a Jamaican expert, but I can tell a good meal from a bad one. It may not reflect the cooking you may have grown up with if you are a Jamaican, but it is certainly not bad.