Eat & Run: Choose Your Own Combination of Jamaican Flavors at the Public Market
My daughter Dinah has a knack for choosing successful mixes of contrasting cuisines when ordering in a restaurant.
A few years ago, at a place in Montreal specializing in poutine – fries with cheese curds and gravy – she chose a Tex-Mex inspired version that mixed guacamole and salsa with the base ingredients. This was by far the best of all the poutine dishes at our table.
She did it again recently when my family ordered takeout from Yardie Ting, a Jamaican restaurant located upstairs at the Public Market House in downtown Portland. My family and I have very little Jamaican cooking experience except for a jerk chicken recipe that we found in a children’s cookbook years ago. While the rest of us searched for dishes we recognized as Jamaicans – jerk chicken, jerk pork, chicken curry patties – Dinah opted for the jerk chicken tacos.
She got three large, soft tortillas filled with jerk chicken, homemade jerk sauce, a very creamy and tangy coleslaw, and pineapple salsa, for $ 12. It was quite spicy from the jerk sauce, but really cool and refreshing from the creamy coleslaw. We all liked our dishes, but agreed that Dinah’s was the best. She won again.
The plantains, which my daughter Sophie had as an accompaniment to her plate of jerk pork, were also a family favorite. They were tender and smooth, a great addition to jerk sauce on meats or curry in patties. The jerk pork platter was $ 13.50 and included large chunks of well-spiced pork and two side dishes. In addition to plantains, Sophie chose beans and rice. For $ 15.50, the meal includes three sides.
I had the jerk chicken meal with two sides for $ 11.50. One of my sides was festivals, a kind of Jamaican fried bread that looked like a donut, just a little sweet. It was a nice accompaniment to the spice on the chicken, which was very tender. I also had the beans and the rice. I also ordered a separate container of mango chutney for everyone to share, for $ 2.50. It went well when we put it on the festivals, I thought.
My wife, Jess, had a chicken curry patty, $ 4, plus some of our side dishes. The topping was a little too spicy for me – which isn’t necessarily that spicy – but everyone liked it a lot. We had two patties and Sophie had the other for lunch the next day. There were also beef, cheese and vegetable patties.
The menu also includes an oxtail meal, a dish of coconut curry, and appetizers like onion rings, fries and wings, as well as sandwiches. There are also family meal options, ranging from $ 40 to $ 55. You choose a protein – chicken, pork, or tofu in various flavors and combinations – and also get rice and beans, steamed cabbage and carrots, and sweet fried plantains as sides.
I used Yardie Ting’s online ordering system. I became a big fan of online ordering during the pandemic as it allows you to order and pick up whenever you want. So when I had a few minutes break in the early afternoon on a Wednesday, I ordered online and put in a 6pm pickup time.
When I arrived at Yardie Ting, which has a booth on the second floor of the Public Market House, my order was in a large bag marked “Ray” sitting on a small table near the counter. The Public Market House is open for dining indoors on the second floor, but we took ours home for dinner.