Simply Irie Caribbean restaurant, Calgary, AB

Simply Irie Jamaican restaurant, at the corner of 14th Street and 17th Avenue SW

Simply Irie Jamaican restaurant, at the corner of 14th Street and 17th Avenue SW

Caribbean cuisine is something with which we are not very familiar.

Of course, everybody’s heard of Jerk Chicken, that spicy, grilled chicken.  I suppose Jerk Chicken is the Caribbean equivalent to Chow Mein in Chinese cuisine; everybody knows it.

When our friend Gary suggested Simply Irie for lunch, I was intrigued.  A new style of food (for me), and hence, a new adventure.

One of the joys of dining is ‘discovering’ new (to us) restaurants.

At first, I thought ‘Irie’ was a woman’s name, but our son, Chris quickly set us straight.  ‘Irie’ is a typically Jamaican expression.  Ask a Jamaican, “How ya doin’ today?”, and the response will likely be, “Simply Irie!”

Simply Irie restaurant is located at 14th Street SW on the west end of Calgary’s trendy 17th Avenue commercial/retail strip.  If you’re lucky, there is free customer parking for a few cars immediately west of the restaurant.  If not, there is ample pay parking on 17th Avenue, and it’s inexpensive.

The restaurant itself is small and cozy.  Place your order at the counter, and the proprietor of this family-run eatery, an amiable woman, happily chats us up from behind the counter as we ponder her menu.

She sees we are newbies, and generously offers us friendly advice from behind her counter while preparing other customers’ meals.

“Everybody comes here and the first dish they always try is our Jerk Chicken”, she says.  But on their second visit, they always try the Oxtail, and that’s what they stick with on every visit after that.”

Beef pattie

Beef patty, $3.95

Goat pattie

Goat patty, $4.95

For appetizers, we order the home made Beef Patty ($3.95) and a Goat Patty ($4.95.)  Both have a nice pastry crust and savory meat filling, with a dipping sauce.

Curry Goat on Rice with Peas, ($17.95)

Curry Goat on Rice with Peas, ($17.95)

Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas, $13.95

Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas, $13.95

Ingrid orders the Curry Goat Stew and the flavouring is very nice.  The dish comes served on a bed of rice and peas.

I order the Jerk Chicken, also on rice and peas.  (You have the option of having plain white rice.)  The proprietor says she’s given me a little ‘extra’, with a nice dollop of curry goat stew on my rice, something I hadn’t asked for, and it adds to the earthy lushness of the dish.

Upon delivering our plates, the proprietor asks if we’d like some “pepper sauce, home made from an old, family recipe”, she explains, but warning, “it’s HOT!”

What’s pepper sauce, I ask.

“It’s base is two Scotch Bonnets”, and the rest of the ingredients are a closely held secret.

I’m curious, so I ask for her secret Pepper Sauce, and she brings out a canning jar, comes to our table, and carefully ladles out one tablespoon of the concoction.  “Be careful.  It’s HOT!”, she warns a final time.

I take a piece of Jerk Chicken which has a mildly spicy seasoning.  We’re told the chicken is marinated for 24 hours before grilling.  I carefully dip the Jerk Chicken in the Pepper Sauce and prepare my mouth for a fiery sensation.

She’s right.  The Pepper Sauce is hot, but not uncomfortably so.  The Pepper Sauce has heat but also a citrus or vinegar-like tartness, and adds to the taste sensation.

The Jerk Chicken is good, although a tad drier than it should be.  Ingrid enjoyed her Curry Goat Stew.

We’ll be back to try the Oxtail, for sure.

Simply Irie Caribbean Restaurant.  Highly recommended.  1431-17th Avenue SW, Calgary, AB.  Tel.:  403.454.7400.  Closed Tuesdays.  




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