K&S ISLAND GRILL
Neighbourhood: St. James
Address: 2069 Portage Ave
Entrees: $13 – $31
As the world becomes more global, the average diner’s tastes have grown to encompass dishes from the world over. Social media trends deliver exotic food fads and big-name chefs can import concepts across borders knowing they’ll have a waiting fan base.
But for a mid-size city like Winnipeg, there is even more opportunity. Here, independent restaurateurs get to show off their talents to a food loving public with a lower barrier to entry than in bigger burgs.
K&S Island Grill is a prime example, and it’s the place to go for expertly prepared Jamaican delicacies. The former Star Grill is now bedecked in red, yellow, and green, punctuated with Canadian and Jamaican flags and Bob Marley on the wall.
Inside the bistro, the food is just as lively. Jerk sauce, Jamaica’s king of condiments, appears in several applications and is worth ordering every time. K&S’s version is rich with warm spices, delivering a deep burn that lingers without overwhelming the flavour.
The unexpected pairing of jerk chicken and linguine has become a popular signature dish. The ooey gooey pasta acts as a creamy counterbalance to the spice, popping with Parmesan funk.
Traditional offerings are can’t- miss, like a supremely savoury oxtail stew, studded with rich meat and carrots. A turmeric-redolent curry loaded with potato and shred-apart tender goat is a kicky option to satisfy spice lovers.
Though the cuisine is noted for its meaty stews, a selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes will please plant-eaters. Callalloo, a greens dish typically made with amaranth, is nicely spiced, the steamed greens’ fresh flavour maturing to a light bitter note.
Sides shouldn’t be skipped here. Put in an order of fried plantain— banana’s more dense, savoury cousin—or festival dumplings, a lightly sweet oblong of fried dough reminiscent of a beignet.
Passion from the kitchen is the ultimate secret ingredient for any restaurant, and this heavenly slice of island life delivers that in spades.