The Heat

The Heat

“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,” the old saying goes (attributed to Harry S Truman). It wasn’t heat, but cabin fever, that drove us out of the kitchen and into downtown Lancaster last evening. It was First Friday and the streets were buzzing with other winter-weary souls, young and old, despite the cold, damp weather.

Bruce had read about a new brew-pub called the Springhouse Brewing Company Taproom that opened on King Street and we hoped to try it out. When we got there, the place was packed and it was clearly going to be a long wait. I was too hungry to wait, so we walked up to Queen Street and headed north, to see what other options appealed to us for dinner. As we walked and talked about some of the restaurants we knew further up Queen Street, we nearly tripped over a small blue and yellow signboard out on the sidewalk advertising “Caribbean Heat: Taste the Islands.” The name alone sounded appealing for a bitter March evening. The sign listed Jerk Chicken, Coconut Shrimp, and a few other tempting possibilities with an arrow pointing into the Central Market Mall. We decided to check it out.

We were greeted immediately by a tall, friendly guy who asked whether we wanted to eat in or get take-out. “Definitely eat-in,” I said, shivering. He led us to a room with sunny yellow walls, seated us in a high-backed booth and handed us menus. Everything on the menu sounded good, maybe because I was so hungry. And the prices were great – with all of the entrees priced under $12, and most in the $7 – $8 range. I decided on Caribbean crab cakes, which came with fries and coleslaw ($7.95). I asked if I could have a side of coconut rice and beans instead of the fries. “No problem,” he said. Bruce ordered the jerk chicken with red beans and rice and spring mix salad ($7.95). “It’ll be out in a second,” the guy told us. While we were waiting, I got up and looked around. The place was a lot bigger than it seemed when we walked in. There’s a second dining area up a few steps, with more booths and tables. The whole place felt cheery and welcoming, with photos of brightly colored beach huts and ocean scenes on the walls. Reggae music played in the background, at a reasonable volume – loud enough to add to the atmosphere, but not so loud that conversation was difficult. The place was nearly empty, with only 3 or 4 other tables filled.

We didn’t have to wait long for our dinner – our server brought two steaming plates, with generous portions. Mine held two large crabcakes, a good-sized mound of coconut rice with red beans, plus coleslaw and a small cup of salsa-type garnish for the crabcakes. Bruce got 4 large chunks of chicken breast, a mound of rice and beans, and spring mix salad with dressing on the side. The crabcakes were crispy on the outside, and full of tender crabmeat inside, with very little filler. They had a nice amount of “heat” and the salsa that came with them was absolutely delicious -chunks of fresh mango, sweet onion and cilantro in a tangy sauce. I love coconut rice, but had been dubious about red beans being mixed in. But it, too, was delicious. Bruce gave me a bite of his jerk chicken. It was unbelievably tender and juicy, and the glaze packed a good combination of “heat” and sweetness. The mildness of the coconut rice and beans was a perfect contrast. I wanted another bite of that chicken, but didn’t want to be greedy.

Our server came back to check on us. “Everything alright?” We told him it was delicious. “Good – we want to make sure we get the food right. If you do that, everything else will follow,” he replied. I asked how long they’d been open. “Just opened in December,” he told us. We told him we’d definitely be back (next time, I want a plate of that jerk chicken all to myself!) I picked up a copy of their take-out menu on the way out. They’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, 7 days a week.Their breakfast and lunch options sound just as good as dinner – from the Caribbean Frittata for breakfast (fresh eggs, chorizo sausage, peppers, onions, potato, their “special blend of seasonings”, topped with cheese and house made salsa – baked to order) to lunch offerings like black bean stew, Irie shrimp salad and jerk steak wrap, with sides of fried plantains, cod fritters and West Indies patties. I have no idea what some of these things are, but I intend to come back often enough to find out.

Here’s a link to their website, for anyone who wants to get out of the kitchen and go check out “The Heat”

PS: We walked past Caribbean Heat again this morning on our way from Central Market to the library. The same guy was there serving up breakfast. I’m guessing he may be the owner.

PPS: We haven’t given up on going to the Springhouse Brewing Company Taproom – stay tuned for the scoop on that place.

Posted by Melanie Tagged as: city life lancaster pa

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