Category Archives: Caribbean

The Winter of Our Restaurants’ Discontent

Late Friday UPDATE: the sign in the door of Royal Mile says temporarily closed due to “electrical and mechanic problems” — hope they come back soon.

Apparently Mr. WC took matters into his own hands and demanded answers from the Royal Mile Pub owners — still unclear exactly when (or if) they will reopen, but information continues to trickle in thanks to Wheaton Calling.  Mysterious “repairs”…we were going to try and eat at RM this weekend, and we will still stroll by to survey the scene.  You never know.

Rumor has it (and I stress this is only a rumor, unsubstantiated, may not be true, etc.) that Gloria’s Island Hut may also be closed, at least temporarily.  I drove by a week or so ago and all the windows were shuttered, but it was before noon on a weekend so I drew no conclusions at that time, but now one of my moles is suggesting they may be at least on hiatus until spring.  I guess Caribbean food isn’t really winter cuisine, but then again, when the frost is on the pumpkin, a little jerk spice and goat curry can really hit the spot.

Sigh…now I want goat curry.

Does two make a trend?  According to Arlo Guthrie, three is an organization and fifty is a movement.  Two may not be a trend — I hope it doesn’t become a going-out-of-business organization, much less a movement! — and I hope both restaurants can come back by the spring; they both have unique ambience, and different food than all other Wheaton restaurants, and I will miss them if they’re really gone.

Recent Returns: Gloria’s Island Hut

A few days after hitting the big time in the WaPo’s Wednesday food section “First Bite” column, the effects of publicity had already hit the Island Hut (2408 University): they were out of sorrel before 7 PM the night we visited.  Sorrel is a “cinnamon [and] ginger” beverage made fresh each morning and recommended by Sietsema in his Bite column.  Clear evidence people are paying attention, Tom!  So I still haven’t tried sorrel.

Just like last time, we ordered jerk chicken and goat curry, both as good as last time except the white meat chicken was dry, I will stick with dark meat in the future. The jerk spices are what make the dish though, and the kitchen has that stuff down.  Love the curry and the accompanying rice and “peas” (aka kidney beans, more or less), a very nice flavor and texture combination.  We also tried the shrimp curry this time, and liked it also, a different curry blend than the goat but just as tasty.

The Hut has added three two-top tables down the center of their tiny dining area, but it still isn’t really a relaxing enviroment, and there’s almost no space to move around (or for the inevitable lines to form). Depending on who is behind the counter, service can be a little spotty (read: friendly but inefficient).  Doubt I’ll eat-in anytime soon (maybe I will if they get a beer license next year), but it’s a great addition to Wheaton’s take-out scene.  Next time I will call ahead to reserve some sorrel, which I am not sure I will like but am excited to try.

More Washington Post Love For Island Hut

Gloria’s (Glorious) Island Hut (2408 University) has been dishing their jerk chicken for only a few months, but they’re getting plenty of attention, most recently in this morning’s Tom Sietsema First Bite column in the WaPo food section.  Well-deserved I say. My own first bite noted here.  Better get over there again before there is a permanent line 24/7.

Taste of Wheaton Within Sniffing Distance

Just four days away! This Sunday from 11 AM to 5 PM in the Wheaton Triangle, specifically. But I think it is really strange that the organizers have not released a list of participating restaurants.  Am I missing something? The entertainment is enumerated (Rocknoceros woooo!), why not the eatin’??

Even the Gazette apparently has not pried the list out of them. But they do have a nice article today about the owners of the new and awesome Island Hut — wonder if Gloria and family will have a stall selling Caribbean bites on Sunday?  If they do — and I hope they do — you will know it by the long long line.  And it will be worth the wait.

Sietsema Likes Island Hut?

Sounds that way based on a post in today’s Tom Sietsema WaPo chat. Someone asked (innocently I’m sure) about new and interesting SS/Wheaton dining options, and Tom cited Island Hut for its “strapping, satisfying portions of  jerk chicken and goat curry, among other island favorites. ” Agreed! He also mentions their homemade sorrel (beverage) without actually recommending it — I have yet to try that, at the Hut or anywhere else.

I hope the li’l ol’ Hut is prepared for increased business!

Cool Jerk

There are no tables at Island Hut, just seven stools at the bar and three more along the window. There isn’t any decor, really — I didn’t think you could get less bare-bones than previous 2408 University tenant Irene’s Pupusas, but the Hut has done it. And it would be nice to sip a Red Stripe with my meal, but a beer license is probably a year or so away.

Those may be drawbacks, but no matter: the food is good, and the jerk chicken in particular ought to have people lining up all day every day.  Not everything is fabulous: beef patties look like mass-market, not made in-house (though I could be wrong); the beef is an unusual creamy-pate consistency. The pastry is flaky enough, and they taste okay. Goat curry is better, fork-tender meat with a hint of fire in the flavorful dark green-brown sauce with chunks of ginger and carrot. Curries (several options besides goat) are served with white rice or rice’n’beans, average thick-cut slaw, and plantains; a nice little lunch or dinner plate.

But never mind all that. The jerk chicken is the real deal: moist, tender, charred on the outside, and with a sneaky spicy kick. You know it is good when you can’t stop gnawing the bones. It comes with sauce that is allegedly hot but isn’t any hotter than the chicken itself — still, the sauce is good, I used mine for dipping the meat patty.  The chicken needs no sauce.  You can get a quarter, half, or whole chicken, prices are comparable with most local Peruvian chicken spots.

Island Hut is really just a takeout joint for now, though that may change if they serve beer at some point. The menu also includes some seafood that takes longer to prepare, and a few other items, like ribs, are listed but are not yet actually available.  They have been open a few weeks and are still ramping up. A local family owns and runs the place; very friendly, efficient service. I also like the little window and saloon doors between kitchen and counter.

Bottom line: the curry is good, and the jerk chicken is excellent. I expect to see a line next time I’m there, which may be soon.