On occasion, my dining partner and I like to plan a getaway that takes us south toward palm trees, sandy beaches, spectacular sunsets, great food and friendly, gentle people. We always get travel brochures and prowl the internet for travel itineraries and special deals getting there.
One catch phrase that caught my eye was that of the island nation of Jamaica:
“Jamaica: Get All Right.”
Now, Kingsport isn’t the first place that springs to mind when you’ve got a hankering for a plate of Jerk Chicken, some Ackee & Saltfish or Curried Goat. Well, thanks to one of my readers, you can visit a restaurant named Milly’s over on East Center Street and get a fix for that hankering of yours.
Milly’s Authentic Jamaican Restaurant occupies a tanned brick building with circular windows. There’s parking for the restaurant in a nearby graveled lot at the corner of East Center and Forest streets. From the ground up, Milly’s starts with seating for 20 or so customers on a well-kept and sturdy tiled floor, with sun-reflecting white walls expanding the interior. Most carry-outs are handled at the pantry-like counter at the rear of the dining area. Also at this location is a flat-screen television featuring Jamaican artists and their music, set at a comfortable sound level for dining. The restroom access is also located here and is unisex.
Jerk Chicken Dinner
Milly’s uses Facebook and social media to post the restaurant’s daily fare. Its availability is updated on a whiteboard near the restaurant’s front door; when we were there, beef and chicken patties were on special, and there was hard dough bread in place of coco bread. My dining partner asked our server Ore (pronounced “Oh-ray”) her opinion of how spicy hot the jerk chicken was. Ore said that Milly’s version of Jerk Chicken wouldn’t require fireproofing her palate, so that’s what my dining partner ordered ($11). All dinners at Milly’s come with side orders; today’s being some excellent rice and peas, a sour yet savory cabbage shred, and plantain fried in butter, cane sugar and molasses. My dining partner’s Jerk Chicken was her favorite, a thigh and leg quarter rubbed with Milly’s own jerk spice mixture and broiled until caramelized. The rice and peas were authentic, from the coconut milk to the bits of grated allspice and nutty kidney beans. The cabbage shred was also very good, while the plantain made a proper end to my dining partner’s very tasty dinner.
Beef and Chicken Patties
Our friend the Retiree was still working off a late breakfast and decided that a Milly’s beef patty and a chicken patty ($2.75 each) were just the ticket. The word “patty” means meat “pastie,” a hand-sized pie of wheat flour filled with meat and other assorted yummies, then folded and baked until golden. With beef, chicken, or even callaloo (a leafy vegetable mixture), you’ve got a savory handful. Of the two patties the Retiree had ordered, her favorite was the beef patty’s pungency in its spicing and firmer texture.
Ackee & Saltfish
Ackee & Saltfish excites comment whenever it shows up on a menu. This Jamaican entrée wears its history like a robe. The Saltfish is salt cod, a sometime seagoing ration with antecedents as far back as the Viking long ships. Ackee is the pale yellow flesh of a West African fruit tree. After sautéing with allspice, garlic, onions, several types of peppers (including a hot Scotch Bonnet) the Ackee flesh turns a bright yellow color that infuses into the rest of the dish. The previously soaked salt cod is flaked into the Ackee preparation. After a good stir and a simmer, the entrée, rice and peas, cabbage shred and a fried plantain were plated. Be advised that the salt cod does still retain some saltiness after soaking, so you won’t need any salt with this dinner. I also had a slice of Milly’s hard dough bread with my meal; just the tool for mopping up all the goodness on my plate.
The bottom line
The Retiree, my dining partner and I enjoyed our supper at Milly’s Authentic Jamaican Restaurant. The atmosphere there is as bright and cheerful as the very friendly and professional service. The food is an experience you will not want to miss.
Though Jamaica’s current tourism slogan “Get All Right” is a good one, the slogan it replaced was more relevant when referring to Milly’s:
“Once You Go, You Know.”