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Island Comfort

Reggae Hut starts good and gets butter. (Er, better.)

The jerk chicken is another Reggae Hut favorite and quite different from what I've had elsewhere. For $6.25 you get an entire half chicken, served with an enormous heap of island-style rice and pigeon peas, and steamed vegetables. Walker bakes his jerk chicken instead of grilling it, so it's moist and falling-off-the-bone tender, almost stewed. Allspice, rather than cayenne, dominates the spice mix, so the chicken comes out a deep, burnished mahogany, and I'll bet the sauce is enriched with another stick of butter.

Both the garlic crab and the jerk chicken make me crave a Red Stripe beer; nothing else will do, although, strangely, it's a beer I don't much like otherwise. (Those who like Red Stripe should drop by on Wednesdays, or "Irie day," when bottles are $1.50 all day long.) The Reggae Hut also offers colorful soft drinks, such as the fizzy amber "Kola champagne" from Jamaica, or grapefruit Ting, but that's about it for beverages until the restaurant upgrades its beer and wine license.

"We'll have a real happy hour someday soon," promises Grigsby. A "real" bar is already in the works, as last week the Hut's three owners -- Kevin Bingham, Gary Mosley and chef Walker -- knocked a hole in the wall to expand into the space next door. The add-on room will hold five new dining tables and some booths, plus a standup bar. "And if we get that liquor license, maybe we'll put in a bellini machine!" says Grigsby with a grin.

Reggae Hut, 4814 Almeda, 524-2905.

Got a hot restaurant tip or an interesting piece of food news? E-mail Margaret Briggs at margaret_briggs@houstonpress.com.

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