I’m Sean Figura, a founding Cambridge Foodie, former fishmonger and butcher with a real passion for cooking, curing, smoking and pickling. I can often be found inventing new recipes, curing my own bacon, or exploring new restaurants. Like the other founders I am genuinely passionate about the Cambridge food scene, and I look forward to sharing my experiences and recipes with you all.
This particular weekend I headed out with fellow Cambridge Foodie Founder Simon Tompkins and our partners. We fancied something different, so we headed to the much talked about Dutchie & Grill Jamaican Restaurant and Take-Away in Ely. Not the first place you’d expect to find a Jamaican restaurant, but they’ve certainly cornered the market!
The restaurant is situated in a lovely building and looks great from the outside. I arrived and the lovely young lady showed me to where the others were seated and soaked in the décor, which, I would describe as interesting. Not because the tables and walls were adorned with a Jamaica and the commonwealth history lesson, but because it felt wipe clean and low rent – a far cry from the exterior. Nevertheless, I was eager to take a look at the menu which was already on the table.
A young man came to take our drinks order. I ordered a 33cl bottle (or stubby) of Red Stripe at a whopping £4 (1.2 pence per ml) and the others shared a bottle of wine at around £17. The wine was very enjoyable by all accounts, and the Red Stripe was savoured so that I could get my moneys worth! We ordered a wide selection of food, to cover as much of the menu as possible. Jerk Chicken, Jerk Pork, Goat Currie, Chicken Stew were the mains and we ordered Jerk Wings, Dumplings and Salt Fish Fritters were ordered as sides. Simon ordered extra scotch bonnets for his Goat curry and they were happy to oblige.
The food arrived unbelievably quickly and we were greeted with an array of wonderful aromas from our various dishes. Unfortunately the visuals didn’t quite live up to the smells as all of our meals were a shade of brown, with very little in the way of colour dotted around as one might expect. Very much a feast for the nose over a feast for the eyes.
I tucked into my Jerk Pork and it was tasty, but the familiar jerk flavour wasn’t there – it lacked the complexity that I’ve come to expect. But worse than that, despite being marked as hot on the menu it was very under spiced. Wanting to soak up some of the juices I reached for my dumpling, but sadly it was more like a stale bread roll and took some hammer and chisel action to break it open. Unfortunately worse was yet to come, as I was greeted several times by small and relatively vicious shards of bone. I’ve eaten Jamaican before and was expecting to encounter some larger pieces of bone, but these were flakes. I suspect their cleaver needs a good sharpening, but it was a similar story with the goat curry and chicken stew also.
My partner hadn’t eaten Jamaican in a restaurant and was very surprised to find bone in her chicken stew, I would suggest a warning on the menu or from the waiting staff could be appropriate in the future. She checked with the waiter ahead of ordering that it wouldn’t be spicy and he assured her it was mild, and much to my envy, her chicken stew was over spiced! She managed to eat it once she’d navigated the little broken bits of bone and said that she enjoyed the flavour.
Simon enjoyed his Goat Curry and his Salt Fish Fritters, though also complained about the shards of bone. He was grateful for the jerk wings he’d ordered on the side as he felt that the portions were quite small.
The star of the show, by all accounts was Megan’s Jerk Chicken. Good depth of flavour and a little kick, and lacking the shards of bone we had all been treated to.
The bill came to a little under £70 for the four of us, which I think reflects the portion sizes pretty well. Though I still resent the 400% mark up on my Red Stripe beer. It might be an okay takeaway if you’re bored of the usual options, but I don’t think any of us are in a hurry to have them again.
Thanks for reading.