I write to all of you fine folks on this glorious day with much excitement to tell you about the fantastic culinary establishment that I visited this week. A lot of the restaurants that I check out for the very first time for my reviews end up being good or even great restaurants that I thoroughly enjoy. Although I’d like to go back to many of them, I hate to say that I still usually tend to just frequent my handful of main places.
But this week’s restaurant, Peppa Pot, captured my taste buds and my heart. And it’s on GrubHub, so I think this one might finally break through my walls of routine.
Peppa Pot is a small Jamaican/Caribbean restaurant that packs a huge punch. I loved the ambiance inside. The look is modern and cozy with rustic elements like a wood panelled bar and an exposed brick wall. And the loud Caribbean music breathes tons of life into the joint, momentarily helping you vacation and escape from quarantine in chilly Rochester. Between the happy music and the smell of patties in the case up front, it’s impossible not to smile.
Speaking of patties, that just had to be the first thing I tried. Between meats and veggie, Peppa Pot offers a few different patty varieties, but I settled on the vegetable filling. The pastry crust was cooked gorgeously. It was flaky and light in the center with crispy edges and an all-around buttery flavor. And the filling was just divine. Saucy, silly, and a little spicy: It tasted and felt just like a slightly-spicy veggie pot pie. It was very difficult not to order a dozen more of these warm, peppery hugs to go.
Good thing I saved room for entrees, though, because they were well worth the wait (which was actually extremely short, by the way). My main was the tilapia in mystery sauce. Which really just means that I ordered tilapia and was asked to choose between three sauces, but I just asked for a recommendation.
I said I wanted it spicy, and the waitress said, “I got you. I’ll surprise you” and left. And, boy, she really did get me. Again, I really don’t know what to call the sauce, but my tilapia was heavily seasoned, blackened, and crisped gorgeously around the edges, and smothered with spicy, acidic peppers and onions. The meat of the fish was moist and flaky and just glistening, the way perfectly-cooked fish does. And the crisp edges and slightly crunchy peppers and onions on top added a great balance of textures. This dish, too, was a warm, peppery hug, and I highly recommend it for anyone that likes seafood with a bit of a kick.
For the second entree, we had to go with the classic jerk chicken. The only thing that made this dish less than perfect was that the meat was just right on the edge of being dry. It didn’t fall over the edge, though, and stayed nice and tender. And the seasoning was lovely. The mix of warm spices made for a sweet and smokey vibe that was bold and flavorful while also being cozy.
And it would be a crime to overlook the bounteous delicious sides — namely the fried plantains. They had a very strong and bright flavor, which makes me feel like these are really fresh, good quality ingredients. And that soft and warm, fruity plantain paired with the sweet and slightly bitter flavor of the caramelization on the outside toggled perfectly between sweet and savory.
The vegetable medley on the side was warm and light and cooked just enough to soften the vegetables while still leaving a nice slight crunch. The veggies were salted well, but otherwise left very plain, which made them serve as a nice palate cleanser for the very zesty, flavorful entrees.
Also on the side was some sort of fried dough ball that I cannot identify because, sadly, I had never had one before, but I am so glad that I’ve had one now, whatever it was. It was fluffy on the inside and fried with an all-around very strong butter flavor. It tasted and felt pretty much just like a biscuit with a slightly crispier outside, and I adored every second of it. I attempted to do some research to figure out what it was, but there were few viable options, so I’m not gonna try. I just know that it’s delicious, it comes on the side of your Peppa Pot entree, and you will not be disappointed.
Like I said from the start: Peppa Pot is a pot of gold. I can’t wait to take people there — which I’d say is mainly because I want to introduce my friends to this fine establishment, but really it’s because I’ve been dreaming about those patties and now I need to try all of the different fillings to fulfill my heart’s desire. Also, at the end of our meal, a very lovely, friendly woman came to take our plates. She marveled at how we finished everything, saying that we made the chef very happy.
As it turns out, she was the chef and my heart just about melted right then and there. Please go to Peppa Pot — if not for me, or even for yourself, at least for her. Everyone needs a little more Peppa in their step.