Alison Cook’s Burger Friday: Great Burger, Great Jamaican Jerk Chicken Sandwich Pon di Road

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The Insane Bolt Burger at Jamaica Pon di Road in Acres Homes

Photo: Alison Cook / Staff

The name alone prompted me to go on a pilgrimage to Jamaica Pon di Road: Insane Bolt Burger.

I chuckled with pleasure at the pun that bounced the name of Usain Bolt, the legendary Jamaican sprinter. Then, after a bit of Google research, was there a famous Jamaican road involved in the name of this food truck turned into brick and mortar? – I laughed again. “Pon di road” turns out to be UK-born island slang for “on the road”, with undertones of perpetual work and motion.

Perfect for a Jamaican food truck, right?

Slightly dented, having driven many miles since 2017, the original vehicle sits outside Acres Homes’ green meerschaum house which now houses the restaurant. Chef-owner Gareth Powell and his wife, Danielle, have created a charming place – all limes and sweet aqua, with a sleek interior counter, a deep dining porch decked out for fall, and a large patio. gravel in front for outdoor dining.

What about the Insane Bolt Burger? Here’s how it stacked up.

THE PRICE: $ 11 for the Insane Bolt Burger; $ 5 for hand-cut Jerk fries, for a total of $ 16 before taxes and tip.

ORDERED : Order online for pickup or go up to the counter, place your order and bring your ringtone to a counter seat, porch table, or table in the deep gravel courtyard, where you can search for your own chairs in a neat battalion.

ARCHITECTURE: Salad stuff on the background. On a lightly sweet bun that has been toasted on both sides, there’s a bash of ‘Island Aioli’, followed by romaine lettuce cut into a chiffonade; tomato slices, red onion and pickles. Next comes a sizable ground beef patty topped with a slice of cheddar cheese and a spicy brown crown that I took for Pon di Road’s mango and pepper sauce.

QUALITY: The Insane Bolt completely disarmed me, despite the fact that the galette is composed and baked in a style that I do not favor. That is to say: finely ground and therefore dense, then cooked so well that no tint of pink (or juice) remains.

But as a sandwich, the burger definitely clicked. There was something lively about the way the top sauce, bottom sauce, and jerk spices were having a conversation; and the freshness of the salad ingredients added interest, as did the sharp cheddar.

So it’s no surprise that the Jerk Chicken Sandwich of the same composition I bought to go turned out to be one of the most delicious grilled chicken sandwiches in town. This Insane Bolt Burger turned out to be my gateway element to Jamaica’s Pon di Road fandom.

FOLLOW-UP ASSESSMENT: Not at all.

CLASSIFICATION BY LETTER: B

VALUE: OK-ish considering the heavy size; but the $ 8.50 Jerk Chicken Sandwich looked like a bargain.

BONUS POINTS: Serious hand-cut, double-fried fries were sprinkled with jerk spices and reminded of the ones my dad made as a kid, always a great nostalgia for me. Also, I can’t remember when I had nicer, more attentive service.

THINGS FOR LATER: I sampled one of the most branched rum cakes in the world, a mini-bundt liberally sprinkled with pecans, for the invigorating breakfast the next day. And I brought home a fabulous Scotch-Bonnety Jerk Chicken Sandwich to eat for dinner, and some cute called “Drunken Plaintains” to warm up for a midnight snack. My only grief: I didn’t buy myself a bottle of homemade mango and pepper sauce. What was I thinking?

LOCAL COLOR : I got there at a deadline, just before dinner time, and found a bustling scene of students coming from George Carver High School just across the street; and a steady stream of fellows just out of work. The kitchen was a bit in the weeds, so we all hung out in the narrow front room, checking our phones, inspecting the neatly wrapped cakes on sale, ourselves wrapped in calm pastels and the sunny fall day. right outside the windows.

A trio of young college girls were chatting happily as they waited for their takeaway, each masked all the time. I admired this and felt a rare hope for the future.

Next, I brought my food to a table on the old-fashioned porch, with a view of the hand-painted “Greetings from Acres Homes” mural that deserves to be a Houston landmark. Usain Bolt gets an appearance, as does his native son Sylvester Turner, bringing together the sons of Gareth Powell’s island home and his current home here on the Gulf Coast.

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  • Alison cook

    Alison Cook – two-time James Beard Award winner for Restaurant Criticism and MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award recipient – has been reviewing restaurants and studying the food scene for the Houston Chronicle since 2002.


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