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Café Pilar: Jerk Chicken, Curried Goat-South Side Jamaican

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Café Pilar: Jerk Chicken, Curried Goat-South Side Jamaican

tony | Jul 21, 2003 11:08 AM

Our lunch didn’t start off very promisingly. Two other people in this bare bones restaurant and a definite cloud of food smoke hanging in the room. An older woman in the corner sort of shouted to the lone waitress, “Do I have to come up there and order or are you gonna come and take it from me?”

“I’ll be right there ma’am”
She brings her a glass of water and a placemat.
“I don’t want water with no ice in it.”
“But it’s cold.”
“I want ice water.”
She got her ice water.

We placed our order. One dinner of jerk chicken and one dinner of curried goat. No lunch specials on the weekend. Weekdays lunch specials are $5. Both dinners were $8 and came with rice and peas, salad and a slice of really dense dough bread. The bread was almost the texture of pound cake except white. Salad is iceberg with slice of tomato and a few cucumbers with packaged Italian dressing. Rice and peas were good, plentiful and well seasoned and sauced and similar to red beans and rice, but definitely not the same. First the goat. Tender and long cooked with few pieces of gristle, moist and rich but not mush. Excellent goat with mild heat and curry flavor.

The chicken. I don’t care what country or neighborhood you’re from; this was some damn fine chicken with an equally impressive dipping sauce. You get half a chicken, all parts were moist and the skin was brownish/bronzed with spices and crunchy to boot. It was well seasoned with a rub and could stand on its own without sauce. It wasn’t overly hot, but there was a definite element of lingering heat. I’m pretty sure they are cooking over charcoal based on the smells outside and the flavor of the chicken. The dipping sauce on the side is brown and chunky with a definite taste of garlic and maybe some soy, but containing quite a few other spices, most likely allspice and didn’t taste comparable to anything we’ve had in the past.

In the middle of the meal we could hear quite the ruckus in the kitchen, as I’m assuming Pilar, or the lady of the house, was giving someone the why and what for in a vey loud Jamaican accented voice. Good times! The atmosphere in this place will not exactly make you think of fuzzy bunnies and your trip to Jamaica with your pals or your best gal, but it does have some damn fine food and many people were coming and going with carry out orders. They also have your main standards of what most associate with Jamaican cuisine including curry chicken, oxtails, ackee and codfish, callalo, red snapper and brown stew chicken. Beef patties and plantains are available as sides along with a selection of Jamaican soda including Kola, Orange, Pineapple, Ginger beer and Ting, or the precursor to Fresca.

This place is on the east side of the street/boulevard so if you are coming from the north down Stony Island you kinda have to make a quick left turn. It shares an entrance with a car wash so make sure you go to the right instead of the left.

Café Pilar
8251 South Stony Island
773-375-7914

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