J'Ouvert Caribbean Cafe
Johnathan Phillips, the general manager of the new J'Ouvert Caribbean Cafe (3030 Travis, 713-521-1313) in Midtown, says the restaurant's name refers to a festival in Trinidad. "It was always the dream of Monique Francis, the owner, to own her own restaurant," he adds.
Monique didn't start out in the restaurant business. In fact, she studied to become a nurse, but a chance encounter with a friend introduced her to the Hilton School of Restaurant Management at the University of Houston and changed her career path. "Monique was born here, but all her family is from Kingston, Jamaica. She always had a talent for cooking, and anyone who knows Monique knows about eating at her house," says Phillips. Monique tested the waters by starting out in the catering business, then decided to open her own place. "There is not a lot of representation of Jamaican and Caribbean cuisine in Houston. Now we just have to get the word out," says Phillips.
The menu here has jerk and curried chicken, pork, shrimp, beef and fish dishes that all come with sides of rice and beans and plantains. They also have sandwiches and roti wraps. We sampled the jerk pork roti wrap, made with round bread similar to a tortilla, only thicker, rolled up and stuffed with pulled pork, stir-fried carrots, onions, tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce. On every table is a selection of Caribbean hot sauces to enliven the already spicy food. Our favorite was the habanero-papaya, whose intense heat mixed with sweetness was perfect for the pork.
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