A Blog Mainly About Food

If by "mainly" you mean "sometimes"

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Islander

Audrey and I were looking for some cheap eats on U prior to going to DC9. We had already hit Dukem the weekend before, and I think I'll have to be drawn and quartered before I step foot into the new Alero in the Ellington. So we headed to Carribean eatery The Islander, a local staple that I'd read about in one of Sietsema's dining guides.

When we walked in, I was surprised at how empty the place was. There was one group of two dining in the front room and a few people having drinks and watching football in the back. Wanting to watch some of the game, Babs and I moved to the back section. The bar at The Islander screams "regulars only." Well, probably because that was the clientele. Everyone seemed to know everyone else, which is fine by me. The space was a little dark for dining, but it was clearly not the primary dining space. We were both pretty famished and looking for some rib-sticking food. We got it in the form of the restaurants renowned rotis, chicken for me and beef for Babs.

Roti, as my south Asian readers undoubtably know, is the Sanskrit-based word for bread. The Indian influence on West Indian cuisine has been very significant, resulting in the birth of this proto-fusion melding of Carribean and Indian flavors. (ever wonder why curries show up on the menu at Jamaican places? Scores of Indian indentured servants and civil servants shipped to the Carribean during the Raj.) The rotis at The Islander came out fairly quickly, wrapped in wax paper and about as big as your average Chipotle burrito. And much better.

Have you ever had a piece of chicken cooked so slowly that it literally melts? So tender that at some point you can't tell the difference between it and the potatoes its mixed with? That's the experience I had with my chicken roti. Though a little lightly spiced for my tastes, the texture and warmth of the dish made for a great salve against the bitter cold outside. Odd, because I don't think they get brutal sub-freezing temperatures in the Carribean.

The best part about the rotis? They cost less than $10. Thats right, Babs and I dined for just over $20, tax and tip included. And it was actual, authentic good food.

I plan on going back to the Islander with a larger group of people soon, to sample some of the other, non-roti dishes on the menu. They all look good, especially the Calypso Chicken. Anyone out there want to try it, maybe sometime later this month? Its worth it. Who needs restaurant week when there are great, cheap ethnic joints just dying to please your taste buds?