The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene
Island Jerk: Jamaican sunshine in North Babylon
Island Jerk, once a Wyandanch standby for takeout Jamaican fare, has relocated to the former North Babylon digs of Original Brooklyn Pizza II. The new place offers table service and, according to owner Lorraine Kennedy, should soon have its liquor license.
Know beforehand that this is not a fancy operation. The strip mall spot needed a makeover in its previous incarnations and still does. On a recent week night, the dining room lights had to be turned on when I said I wanted to eat at the restaurant (most of the business still is takeout) and place mats were plastic, imprinted with maps of Jamaica.
But oh, the food. A whole other story. The chef, who hails from Jamaica and cooked at the Wyandanch locale, is named Garfield. Only one name, said Kennedy.
No question, the guy can cook. For starters, there was a bowl of slyly spicy chicken and bean soup with bone-in pieces of poultry, vegetables and — the only off note — somewhat undercooked dumplings. His megawatt jerk chicken had depth and nuance, accompanied by spicy-sweet fried plantains and very good cabbage plus rice and peas. Great goat curry too, shot through with subtle fire.
Island Jerk is at 1350 Deer Park Ave., North Babylon, 631-242-4262.
Above: The jerk chicken at Island Jerk in North Babylon