It's not just the reggae rhythms that give the new Jamaica House Cuisine & Culture (6357 Westheimer, 713-339-1004) its island feel — it's the laid-back decor and, of course, menu full of Jamaican specialties.
When Wendi-Ann Francis-Walker moved here a couple of years ago, her goal was to replicate the cuisine and culture of her native land. Her mother, Jacqui, has had a 23-year career catering to international dignitaries and heads of state in Jamaica as the private chef for the country's prime minister. "We're showing our culture in many different ways, like the different musicians that play here every week and the handcrafted items that are for sale and, of course, in our cuisine and in the famous Blue Mountain Coffee and Red Stripe Beer that we serve here," says Francis-Walker.
Dish started out with the Jammin Pocket Pies — traditional, flaky pastry pies, not unlike empanadas. We ordered both chicken and beef versions, which were very tasty. Yet it was the homemade, spicy jerk sauce served on the side for dipping that tingled our taste buds. The sweet and spicy sauce is so good that Wendi-Ann's next venture is to bottle it. The escoveitch fish, two fillets of tilapia, was well seasoned and served with a vinegar sauce with carrots, onions and peppers.
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But in the end, it was the JH Bread Pudding that stole the show. It has a soft consistency not unlike French toast and is served with a rum cream sauce. "We're thinking about selling this by the trayful and bottling the rum sauce, since so many people have been asking us about it," says Francis-Walker. Yes, please.