Jamaican Jerk Hut – Philadelphia, PA
When you think of Jamaican food, you usually do not equate it to being fancy in any manner. Well Jamaican Jerk Hut (JJH) is trying to offering their island’s famous flavors with an upscale flair. In doing so, JJH has had their share of fame. They have had a movie called “In Her Shoes” starring Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette, and Shirley MacLaine shoot scenes in the restaurant that were featured in the money as well as hosting Food Network star Guy Fieri who has listed JJH on his website http://www.guyfieri.com/ as a Triple D Hotspot and was featured on his show “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” in June of last year.
JJH is very deceiving. When you walk inside the front of the restaurant, JJH seems very tiny and quaint. Walk to the side and JJH has a very large outdoor area for events and dining that is unheard of in Center City Philadelphia, and then they also have a rear restaurant that has seating for quite a few people as well. JJH really is like three different dining experiences in one. The service was friendly and down home. My order would be Jerk Chicken.
The presentation of their food at JJH is top notch for this type of dish. I would hope so as the bill would ring in at $15 for my jerk chicken platter. With JJH serving size so much smaller than most locations offering jerk chicken you know you are paying for the experience of dining in the safety of a center city neighborhood unlike other spots offering this type of food, the fancier Caribbean ambiance they provide especially with the outdoor seating, and a little bit of eating somewhere you have seen on television to tell your friends you ate there. With all of that being said, thankfully the food was top notch as well. The chicken had some major heat to it that was part of its flavor and not just spicy to be spicy if you know what I mean. Do not get me wrong as it was still very spicy as the burning sensation in my mouth radiated long after leaving JJH, so you know it had quite a kick to it, but it was a kick that was part of the flavor profile. The spice combination was spot on and one of the best around. The meat was firm, but still came off the bone easily. The sides of rice, cabbage, and plantains were all good and better than average, but finished very quickly with their compact portions.
I enjoyed my time at JJH, but I must admit I did walk out a little hungry after my meal. JJH is providing the finest dining experience of Caribbean food around that I know of, but part of the allure of authenic jerk food to me is that in Jamaica it is provided by street stall hawkers selling their fare to the common islander as an affordable meal just pulled out of a pot or drum smoker with little emphasis on appearance. JJH has a good thing going and I can see why they have received their amount of well deserved press and loyal followers.
Would I go back? Yes, but more as a night out on the town introducing individuals new to Caribbean cuisine to JJH as they provide an atmosphere that anyone could enjoy and would be something new and exciting to try.
Are they the best? They are one of better options around Philadelphia, but I would not call them the best.
Three and Three-Fouth out of Five Stars