The experience

I have been looking for a Caribbean restaurant since we moved here from Nashville, but have not been to a single one since we moved here. Ogre remembered that there was one called Taste of the Islands in Plano so we thought this would be a great adventure for us.

We arrive at a strip mall and walk in to a small, mom and pop owned and run restaurant. The restaurant has two rooms and only one other couple is dining. The menu is on the wall and there is not much to it. I want the Curry Chicken and Ogre, of course, opts for the spicier Jerk Chicken. No kids menu, but the guy behind the counter says he can whip up some of the Stewed Chicken in smaller portions for the kids. He points in the direction of the refrigerator case for drinks. Quite the interesting array of drinks from your standard sodas and waters to tropical guava drinks and island beers. I opt for the guava-pineapple juice and select the Guava-Carrot drink for Mina (hey, we have to get the veggies in somehow). Ogre chooses the Ginger Beer.

We decide to sit in the other room where there is island music playing. There is a large open area probably meant for dancing. We are settled in less than five minutes when he brings out the kids’ food. Good thing, too, since there are no crayons or other child dining entertainment products. Benjamin has climbed onto a chair and we decide that we’ll just let him kneel in his chair instead of getting his clip on chair out of the car. A few moments later, Ogre and I get our entrees and we’re all digging into our food. The music is playing, the food is pretty good, and the kids are dancing in their chairs, things couldn’t be more harmonious. It’s the perfect setting for a laidback, fun dinner.

Dancing to the Caribbean music

My Curry Chicken definitely has a little kick to it. Benjamin reaches over to get some of mine and, once again, I try to ward him off by givin him just enough to make him not want anymore. He cries, turns pink, and sucks down some juice. But then, lo and behold, he takes his fork and stabs another piece of my chicken. This time he doesn’t cry, he still turns pink, but he must really like the flavor. So he eats his and my entree. Another moment of pride for his spicehead of a father.

The littlest hothead

The entrees come with a braised cabbage and rice with beans. Mina is forced to eat the braised cabbage since it’s the only vegetable choice. Ogre wolfs down his Jerk Chicken and Benjamin looks like he wants to get down. Since he lacks confinement, he wiggles off of his chair and I decide that it’s okay since there isn’t anyone else in the restaurant anymore. But then he decides he wants to bring his plate with him. Not a good idea. So I take the styrafoam plate they put the kids’ food on and place it aside. Benjamin is not happy about this and is trying to climb across the table to get to it. I ask Ogre for help since I have one hand holding him down and another trying to keep my and his plate away from him. Ogre sits beside Benjamin and for whatever reason puts the plate back in front of him. Benjamin promptly tries to grab the plate so we can have a disaster. We move the plate away and Benjamin screams. Apparently, we are really awful parents because he scoots down and walks away crying. Ogre goes after him and corrals him back over our way. About mid way, Benjamin and I make eye contact and this sends him into a meltdown. There is my sweet baby, splayed out in the middle of the dance floor on his back crying. I wanted to photograph this, but Ogre scooped him up. Benji comes back over to the table, the music gets the best of him, and dancing cheers himself up.

Meanwhile, Mina is still eating her chicken and has yet to touch the veggies. It’s getting late and, once again, we’re just waiting for Mina to finish her dinner. I follow Benji as he walks around the restaurant. The owners are very nice and comment on how he’s “keeping me busy.” I order some fried plantains and we continue to wander the restaurant. I look over to see what’s going on at our table and I see Ogre sternly telling Mina to eat her vegetables. Uh-oh, we’re getting to crunch time. I head back over to the table with Benjamin as our plantains arrive. I tried to hide the plantains behind some napkins, but Benjamin sees them and wants them…now! Nevermind that they are 8000 degrees. My mom makes these 2-3 times a week and he (and I) love them. Ogre takes them to cool them off and Benjamin is screaming again. This poor child thinks we are torturing him on purpose. Typically we can signal to him that it’s hot and that we’re going to blow on the food til it cools, but he is totally jonesing for these bananas!

Jonesing for plantains

We finally get them cool enough for him to eat and he starts in on that.

So while one ordeal has resolved itself, another one begins. Mina is taking her sweet time eating the very small portion of cabbage I gave her. In fact, she proclaimed, “This is the worstest vegetables I’ve ever had and the worstest day of my whole life!” She does live a pretty koosh life, so maybe it is the worst day of her life. I tell her to take bigger bites and she puts her fork in her mouth with nothing in it. I’m starting to get a little annoyed now. I tell her to put food on her fork. She picks up one bean and puts it on her fork. Now, I’ve become temporarily insane. I walk over, grab her spoon, and put food on it to show her how much food I expect. I probably would have shoved it into her mouth had she not started crying that she wanted her spoon back. I take a deep breath and put her spoon on her plate and tell her to eat what’s on the spoon. She does and for her the rest of her meal, I scoop up her food on to her spoon and she eats it. And just to add insult to injury, she knocks over her juice. Mina.

Phipps aftermath

Over on the Benji side, he has wolfed down 4 slices of plaintains. (Ogre and I each got two.) He indicates that there is “no mo” on his plate and wants more plantains. Sorry, Benj, no more, all gone. Not good enough, evil parents, I need more deep fried bananas!! More screaming. The lady that owns the place tries to be understanding explaining to us that it’s just because he’s tired. Um, no,not really, he woke up from a two hour nap before we left for dinner. He just wants more bananas. We settle our tab and get out of there, much to the relief, I’m sure, of the owners. Benjamin cried the entire way out. Awesome!

The food

Ogre said that his Jerk Chicken was “really good.” I liked my Curry Chicken, but I didn’t love it. Mina and Benjamin loved the chicken. I also thought the braised cabbage and rice and beans were good, but nothing to write home to mom about. We did not venture out to the the non-chicken parts of the menu. Mainly because we were craving those particular dishes. Who knows, maybe we missed the diamond in the rough here.

The service

This is definitely home-style Caribbean food. I felt like we were eating in the dining room of their home. There were even a couple of patrons just kind of hanging out drinking and chatting at the front of the restaurant around a coffee table. The owners were very kind and accomodating, but they didn’t really provide any sort of “service” once they brought out our food. I think Ogre even bussed our table. Granted, we did leave quite a mess.

The kids

I wouldn’t call this restaurant totally kid-friendly, but they were nice. They offered to make a plate that was a smaller portion of one of their entrees. I don’t know what they charged us for that because we didn’t get an itemized reciept. The kids loved the atmosphere. Mina volunteered that initially she’d give the restaurant zero stars. We told her what she thought if we took out the vegetables and getting in trouble and she gave it two stars. And I agree. Two stars.

Total price: 33.49 (includes two bags of candy we bought at the counter)

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