Short Orders: Scarlet Ibis
14833 Midway, Addison
Sometimes you feel sorry for well-meaning restaurants stuck in unfortunate locations. In this case, it's a Caribbean spot hiding behind the sometimes decaying facades along Midway, surrounded by parking and wedged under insurance offices and other small businesses.
Nothing could be more evocative of island cuisine.
But you have to hand it to the folks at Scarlet Ibis. They revel in the unadorned--from interior decor to the basic menu of jerk this and curry that, they aspire to nothing more than basic simplicity.
Take "doubles" as an example. This is an enigmatic term for a chickpea sandwich popular in Trinidad, a street vendor snack rolled inside and out in curry powder and pan fried. It's nothing more than that--soft, earthy and gritty with a mellow heat.
Elegant? Yeah, right. Filling? Definitely.
Their version of jerk chicken is heavy on thyme, light on chile, and quite soft. They use jerk as a marinade, so the flavor seeps slowly from the meat. You can order it with any two sides, although fried plantains (in this case gushy and wonderfully plain) and beans and rice are common.
The restaurant serves phoulorie, rotis, some grilled seafood options--though one would have reason to doubt the quality here--and a good oxtail stew. There's plenty to sample.
If anything stood out, though, it was their version of sorrel. A thick tea popular in Trinidad, they steep it with spices so it resembles liquid baked apple with plenty of cinnamon. You just wish it were summer and Scarlet Ibis had a patio--and a view. And you wish they had a liquor license, allowing them to splash in a little rum.
You know, so you could truly enjoy it.
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