16.1.09

FLOG: island soul

wednesday we were gonna hit up la medusa for their prix fixe menu--$25 for an appetizer, a main couscous dish, and dessert--but they were closed. booty.

instead we ultimately ended up going down the street to island soul, a caribbean place that apparently gets mad props from the seattle PI, seattle weekly, the stranger, seattle magazine, et al. we walked in and were impressed by the relaxed atmosphere, good music, and the extremely appealing smell of cooking food--unlike the place we had walked into and promptly out of 5 minutes prior, which had terrible music, wierd decor, and smelled like no one had eaten there all day. as over half of our standard FLOG crew was absent (i'm looking at you, teebah, lynsey, kevin) we didn't order a lot of dishes, but we were pretty satisfied with what we did order.

we started off with the yam fries, which were excellent--i've had sweet potato fries before at various restaurants, and they were definitely enjoyable, but i'd have to say the yam fries at island soul trumped most of the offerings i've had elsewhere. i usually prefer the outside of my fries to be crispy, and while these were not prepared that way, it did not negatively affect my opinion of the fries at all; indeed, the insides were perfectly cooked. the yams were served with a jerk mayonnaise which set off the flavor of the fries quite nicely. the mayo itself had a pleasant, medium heat, with a strong flavor reminiscent of pickled ginger. i asked carla, our server, if there was in fact any ginger in the mayo, but was unable to get a straight answer out of her; her concern over the possibility of me having a ginger allergy led me to believe my analysis was probably correct.

the second appetizer we ordered were the "little islands," which were like little dumplings made from corn dough filled with black beans, topped with feta cheese and guacamole. they were very good; the beans were well seasoned and the feta was applied sparingly enough to impart flavor without being overpowering. the dumplings themselves had a good texture and were reminiscent of tamale dough. om nom nom nom.

the rest of the food came. drew ordered the soul in a bowl, which is essentially a sampler trio of some of the meat dishes they have on offer at island soul: oxtail, curried goat, and jerk chicken; the dish also comes with 'rice and peas' which is really just basmati rice with some red beans thrown in. i'd recommend this for a first foray into either caribbean food as a whole or at this particular establishment; the dish happened to have a taste of almost everything else that we ordered with the exception of the oxtail.

emily ordered the jerk chicken, which (as the name implies) is rubbed in jerk seasoning and then slow cooked in a smoker. I tried a few bites; it was deliciously cooked--well seasoned, very smoky, and tender. the smoke flavor did not overpower the jerk seasoning. i'd probably order this if i were to go back. the dish was also served with rice and peas and collard greens.

i ordered the curried goat, as i'd had goat before and really enjoyed it. i'm also a big curry fan, so i figured this would be doubly good. this ultimately was not to be, although the flavor of the curry was decent, if a bit anise-y. the goat dish itself largely consisted of bones and if i had to guess i would say that most of those bones probably originated in the backbone, as i can't really think of any other type of bone that has interlocking pieces. the meat tasted fine but having to break apart and pick meat off of small bones really didn't do a whole lot to enhance my enjoyment of the meal. on the other hand, the collard greens were some of the best i've ever had, and the rice and peas (which seems to be a consistent presence in any dish served at island soul) made a tasty pairing with whatever curry did not consist of goat spine.

some other highlights of the meal were the cornbread muffins and a habanero aioli. the muffins had grated coconut in them and were almost cakelike in consistency; the coconut added some sweetness and crunch (we took it upon ourselves to give a little character to the muffins with a yam fry and a couple of red beans). andrew noted that the cornbread was complimented very well by the sauce that came with the oxtail, which i unfortunately did not actually try myself. the aioli, we were warned, was "very hot" and it was recommended to us that we only dip a single tine of our fork in it to make sure we could handle the heat. it more or less lived up to the hype, as the recommended dose provided eyebrow-raising heat, and a more liberal application caused my eyes to sweat a little.

i'd recommend island soul, as the food is pretty good. i'll probably go back again sometime in the near future myself. the average price per plate is maybe a little bit more than i would have expected to pay, but the service is good, the atmosphere is quite enjoyable, and the food is good overall. i had a less than stellar experience with the goat but i'd say that was more of a luck-of-the-draw thing than anything else; i highly doubt the restaurant uses ONLY goat spine in that dish, and the veggies were all excellent. check it out on your birthday, as carla gives a rousing rendition of happy birthday that will shake you to your very core.

island soul is located in columbia city at 4869 ranier ave s; seattle WA, 98118.

1 comment:

SAKURA NYC said...

all of this should be in my belly right now...then i wouldn't care that i am hungover. xo, sak.