A Jamaican flag scrolled across Average Joe’s digital sign. JamRock Cultural Restaurant recently started serving at the Superior pub, and the line for Jamaican fare loomed from the kitchen to the bar.
A woman in line ahead of us said we’d just miss the free sample of some delicious meat. A man standing at the front said he’d been waiting 45 minutes, which said more about the food’s quality and intrigue than anything else.
It’s a one-man show in the kitchen. With the back door open to a grill and reggae playing, Tony O’Neil moved around a bin of large potatoes, rinsing and chopping green onions, and dishing grits into containers with an ice cream scoop.
The menu that night was jerk shrimp and grits, loaded potatoes with either jerk steak or jerk shrimp.
After about 30 minutes, we each ordered shrimp and grits, a longer line forming behind us. O’Neil handed off our food, apologizing for the wait — and he meant it.
We took it to the parking lot, where an intoxicating smell flooded the car.
Lovely salmon-colored shrimp lay over a mound of tightly packed garlic butter grits, or ground cornmeal, with bits of bright green onion sprinkled on top.
The first bite was an explosion of flavor, deep pepper and spice. The shrimp was perfectly plump and zingy, and shrimp juice pooled around the edges of the Styrofoam. Fans of heat may be inclined to slurp this up.
It was a jolt to the taste buds, and what I didn’t eat, I finished later that night.
Plates are a flat $20, cash only right now, and you get big portions.
The menu changes: smoked Gouda mac and cheese, gumbo, cornbread, stuffed chicken tortellini, jerk chicken Alfredo. JamRock has added jerk wings and loaded fries as a Wednesday staple.
When we walked out of the pub with our food, diners sat at the bar with forks in hand. All smiles, and soon were we.
JamRock Cultural Restaurant
1310 N. Fifth St., Superior (serving out of Average Joe’s Pub)