Jerk chicken and pork with plantains, rice, and beans.
On Friday AJ and I met up with Matt, and his friends from Swathmore, Vernon and Cathy. Cathy is also the wonderful author of the food blog, Gastronomy. I am a huge fan of her blog, so I was very excited to be able to share a food experience with her. I am sure she will post about her perspective of the our meal, so be sure to check that out!
Cathy has family in Northern California, so she picked out a place in Menlo Park that had received good reviews. We met up at Back-A-Yard, a caribbean american grill. They are reknowned for their jerk chicken. AJ and I had gone 20 days without meat, until we looked at this menu. The vegetarian option of jerk tofu just didn't sound appealing. After much debating, we decided to share a jerk chicken and pork platter.
We placed our orders at the counter and sat down to wait for our meals. Back A Yard is a very casual eatery with maybe five tables clustered together in the small space. Scenes of Jamaica and the caribbean adorn the walls. Some evenings reggae music is played, adding to the ambiance.
I finally get to meet the "Gastronomer"!
Ginger beer and grape soda.
We sipped on some sodas while waiting for our meals to arrive. I got a Jamaican ginger beer, essentially a sweeter spicier gingerale. Matt got a champagne cola - another soda with some Jamaican influence. We were a little disappointed to find out that the sodas are manufactured in Canada. So much for authenticity. The ginger beer was really spicy, but a little too sweet. It went well with jerk chicken.
Sippin' on champagne...cola that is.
Festivals - fried corn dough.
Cathy and Vernon were generous enough to share some of the festivals they ordered. Festivals are a jamaican treat, similar to a funnel cake, but made with cornmeal. I don't think I've encountered a fried dough I don't like. These were quite tasty.
Cathy and Vernon deciding how to split up their plate of chicken and pork.
Our food arrived nice and warm. AJ and I ordered all white meat chicken, which was extremely moist and juicy. The pork was fatty and tender. I love fried plantains and was extremely pleased with the sweet, caramelized fruit. The rice and beans were served up in two big scoops. The rice and beans had a sweet yet salty taste. AJ and I were fans. The best part of the meal was the jerk sauce, which comes on top of the meat and in a small cup on the side. I wish they sold this stuff, cuz I would love to have taken it home with me. The sauce is super garlicky, with a subtle peppercorn flavor, tangy vinegar and a little sweetness round it out.
Jerk chicken, plantains.
While I was feeling pretty full, I saw a sweet potato pudding on the menu. I absolutely love sweet potatoes and decided to give it a try. When my dessert got to the table, I was thoroughly disappointed by its pale appearance. Where was the bright orange hue. Also this pudding looked more like a pie. The flavor was extremely dull, starchy and a little sweet. The best part was the caramelized edges. Vernon finished this off for me. Cathy ordered the key lime pie. She made the right choice. It was tart, creamy, and sweet. The graham cracker crust added a little crunch. If you're looking for a tropical way to end your meal, choose the key lime pie.
"Sweet" potato pie.
Back A Yard is a great place to get a cheap, tasty meal. While I am not sure it was totally worth eating chicken instead of tofu, I would recommend this place for meat lovers with a hankering for something different. It's worth a trip just for the jerk sauce. Hey, maybe even the tofu would be good with this stuff.
Back A Yard Caribbean American Grill
1189 Willow Rd
Menlo Park, CA 94025