Mr. Browns Lounge
2301 West Chicago Avenue Chicago, IL 60622
Jamaican food, like most Caribbean islands is a fusion blend. The influences in Jamaican cuisine include Arawak indigenous people from Jamaica, Spanish, British, African and Chinese that at one point inhabited the island like most Caribbean islands. All of this hidden on the corner of Chicago and Oakley. I want you to imagine the two finger smile on my face when my good friend told me there was a Jamaican lounge in Ukrainian Village. Red stripes! Jerk Chicken! Fried Plantains!
When I arrived it’s a modest sign and you can miss it if not looking, the lounge is also modest with decor but the back ground music definitely sets the mood. My server greeted me promptly and was well educated in the cuisine as well as enthusiastic to run through the menu with my girlfriend and I. I decided to try and keep it as classic as possible by choosing , the Jamaican patty (beef turnover, empanada) to start, Island Jerk chicken, which is dry rubbed with Jamaican herbs and spices, marinated and finished on a charcoal grill. Lez be honest. I did also order the Island Style Mac & Cheese which I was really skeptical about so I guess I didn’t really stay traditional.
While awaiting our meal we were greeted with fried plantain crisps and a jerk sauce, crunchy sweetness! Unlike Puerto Rico when Jamaicans say plantains it’s only served one way….sweet! The peppery sweet Caribbean jerk sauce was a treat, not spicy enough to scare you away but those of you with a more sensitive pallet beware…I suggest asking for a sample of the sauce because I bet you can ask for it on the side. The Jamaican patty was everything i was hoping for, shredded beef marinated in jerk sauce with a subtle spicy Kick! At this point I was ready for my first red stripe. My mac and cheese arrived first, I was delighted to see cheese melted over and breaking through the barrier of cheese, scooping out my first bite I noticed spices and herbs, at first bite i thought, I don’t want my chicken, I want a tub of mac & cheese. I had to pace myself because I’m such a fan of Mac & Cheese I lose it when I find something I love. (Side Note: I have been making a classic Mac & Cheese Dish for years with spices fresh rue and bacon.) When the waitress placed the Island jerk chicken down I secretly wished for and extra mouth and pair of hands. The chicken was moist and perfectly cooked. The spice like the dip earlier was not over whelming…but delicious. Now that I think about it, I have no Idea what my girlfriend ate. I think I blacked out after the Mac & Cheese.
Desert? How dare you! I’m a lady. Of course I asked to see the menu, It was slightly disappointing to see that there wasn’t any traditional Jamaican deserts on the menu, I do suggest the rum raisin ice cream, or a rum punch for those not willing to add on the calories.
All in all I had a great time, Mr. Browns Lounge has daily food specials, and a separate late night menu. DJ’s Wedsday through Sunday and have a very friendly staff. I had to come to the understanding that Mr. Browns Lounge is not a traditional Jamaican restaurant, it’s so much more than that. It’s inventive, creative, and fusion! They’re a few vegetarian choices and, pescetarian options! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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Nina is a Chicago native, of Puerto Rican decent. Four years ago she co founded Doll House, which is a weekly Lesbian night in Chicago. Nina is now running Doll House with a team of twelve people, and swears it’s been the best four years of her life. After 18 years of arroz con gandules, Nina decided to take on the city to see what the neighborhoods have to offer. Some people eat to live, and although she hates to admit it, she lives to eat. Spoiling herself with one, two…OK maybe four or five nights out a week. When Nina is not indulging in Chicago eats, you can find her with a colorbrush in her hand in a high end salon making Chicago more beautiful every day.