The Palms Jerk & Grill
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The Palms Jerk & Grill is a strictly Jamaican restaurant. Like many Caribbean restaurants in Toronto, the food is good and affordable.
Expect to dodge debris like a traffic pylon and large potted plants and trees on your way in.
The Jamaican flag is represented in bright shades of yellow and green, and there's lots of seating in the large space, tantalizing bottles of hot sauce on each table.
Mains like oxtail ($12) are served with rice and veggies, plus a little plantain. I take the enthusiastic customers munching on a couple orders when I arrive as a good sign.
Jerk chicken is a pretty good deal at $11 for a half chicken with rice and veggies.
The skin tears off relatively easily, and the flavour is quite cinnamon-forward. Steamed veggies are solid: peppery, crisp and tender.
All chicken mains (curry, stew, BBQ, fried) are $9 for a smaller size, $11 for a larger size.
Curry is relatively thick and warmly spiced, and slaw provides a crunchy, cooling counterpoint. Plantains are executed well, smashed but still caramelized with crispy edges.
The usual assortment of sodas crowds a fridge. Grace Island Sodas in flavours like grapefruit wash down the spice.
Grace also makes most of the provided hot sauces, though I'm pleased to see local No. 7's smoky chipotle offering, and a spicy mango sauce shouldn't be missed for its sweet heat.
The unlikely star of this show is a chef who goes by "Trench." A caricature of him hangs on the back wall. He may be a bit abrasive at first, but probe into the food here and you'll soon find yourself on the receiving end of a rough but warm handshake.