Dhat Island rekindles fond memories of Jamaica | Arts & Entertainment | redlandscommunitynews.com – Redlands News

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Updated: April 22, 2022 @ 8:34 am
Fried chicken Benedict with Creole Hollandaise.

Fried chicken Benedict with Creole Hollandaise.
Upon entering Dhat Island, I was transported back to our honeymoon in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, drinking rum punch under thatched umbrellas, dancing to the Reggae beat of Bob Marley and Toots and the Maytals, and feasting on jerk chicken, patties and curried goat.
Aromas and flavors are part of our physical memories, as opposed to intellectual memories (places, events, directions).
As you get older, intellectual memories tend to dim, but those circulating around food remain vibrant and persistent — such as the smell of a certain food that has the ability to immediately transport you back to a long forgotten experience in a way that could not be conjured up intellectually. (See Marcel Proust’s “Remembrances of Things Past” for a more in depth discussion of this phenomenon.)
Dhat Island offers a plethora of Caribbean dishes including a number of Haitian specialties. The keys are bold flavors and authenticity, and Angela and Carlo Alce, chef/owners, deliver both in a big way. As the brunch menu states, “Sit, Exhale, Relax” and put yourselves into their expert culinary hands.
Take the oxtail stew, for example. Succulent pieces of meat on the bone are bathed in a savory brown sauce and beg to be gnawed on by hand to get every last morsel of meat. The sauce itself incorporates fresh thyme, garlic and just enough Scotch Bonnet (Habanero) chiles to cut though the richness of the meat with a slowly building heat. A lovely array of sautéed veggies including purple and green cabbage, zucchini, bell peppers and onions accompany this entree. The meat is decoratively topped with a crispy fried plantain strip.
Another unique and must-order dish is the Poisson & Grits feast. White fish filets are dredged in a spicy coating and pan fried, accompanied by plump sautéed shrimp and Cajun style Andouille sausage all sitting on a bed of exceedingly creamy cheese grits topped with a Creole seafood sauce — impeccably fresh seafood paired with flavors that linger on the palate.
Perhaps the most unique creation is fried chicken Benedict. Chicken tenders are coated with Dhat Island’s Caribbean seasoning batter and deep-fried. The chicken sits on two English muffin halves with a creole Hollandaise sauce and poached egg precariously perched on each. A cacophony of flavors explode on the palate with each bite.
The Benedicts are accompanied by sautéed, tender skin-on potato wedges and a side salad topped with a perfectly ripe strawberry. The pleasing crunchiness of the chicken in tandem with the tarragon infused spiciness of the Hollandaise and the luxuriant mouth feel of the grits provided a wealth of textural complexity.
Then came Griyo, which is Haiti’s national dish, but let me digress for a moment. One of the most distinctive qualities of Caribbean fare is the use of aromatic spices such as cinnamon, allspice, clove and nutmeg that are used in many rubs and when combined with the fruity spiciness of Scotch Bonnet chiles, makes for flavor profiles that are unique to the islands.
Griyo, which is also known as island pork, is composed of pork chunks which are combined with clove powder, thyme, allspice, Scotch Bonnets, lime juice and orange juice, then marinated for three days.
Then it is slowly braised until very tender, resulting in a hurricane of aromas, and melt in your mouth flavors.
This complex meat dish comes with an extra added attraction: pikliz, a Haitian pickled vegetable relish consisting of thinly sliced cabbage, julienned carrots, Scotch Bonnets, clove, lime juice and distilled white vinegar. It’s perfect for cutting through the richness of the pork. Griyo is also served with rice, beans and fried plantain.
Finish up with their deconstructed peach beignet cobbler, which is made of five to six homemade beignets (deep-fried dough sprinkled with powdered sugar) topped with cooked sliced peaches in a sinfully delicious peach juice/caramel sauce and a dollop of whipped cream commanding the summit! Be sure to save room for this unique creation.
David Cohen is the former co-host of the PBS show “Table for Two.”
Dhat Island
Where: 308 W. State Street, #1A, Redlands.
Hours: 4:30 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, Saturday brunch 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Prices: Appetizers $6.95 to $9.95, entree salads $14.95 to $19.95, entrees $17.95 to $26.95.
Recommended dishes from the dinner menu: Jamaican & Island patties (appetizers), seafood gumbo, jerk chicken, eggplant Creole with beef, curry goat and meli melo (Haitian jambalaya).
Details: Flavored fruit mimosas available at brunch. Indoor and patio/courtyard dining. Reservations recommended for parties of five or more.
For more information: Visit dhatisland.com or call (909) 798-6060.
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