While in Asheville, NC this past weekend my boyfriend and I were hunting for some good hole-in-the-wall food and found Simma Down Caribbean Café on Urban Spoon. We knew we had to try it since 100% out of 67 people gave it a thumbs up and obviously they were doing something right that we didn’t want to miss.
My boyfriend frequents a Jamaican restaurant in Marietta, GA called Jamaican Jerk so often that the owner calls him when he’s cooking my boyfriend’s favorite dish – jerk goat. I’ve also been to Jamaica for work this year and got to try all the good food that Kingston has to offer such as ackee and salt fish (their national dish) for breakfast, curry goat, oxtail, stew chicken, curry chicken, and beef patties with coco bread. I’ve tried to cook my own Jamaican food twice, without much success. The curry goat was a complete disaster but the rice and peas turned out okay, once. Aside from cooking, we both consider ourselves pretty well versed in Jamaican cuisine so were excited to try Simma Down!
The chef/owner, Sam Briggs, grew up in Jamaica and North Carolina and learned all his cooking in the ghetto of Jamaica. He says that he uses local and organic ingredients as much as possible and has built relationships with local farmers. The menu is very reasonably priced and it’s the first time that I’ve seen a more up-market Jamaican restaurant still have the flavor of a hole-in-the-wall. Usually, Jamaican restaurants are a bit dingy with styrofoam and plastic forks as the only option– no plates, but killer food. Simma Down found the perfect balance of providing a nice atmosphere with actual plates and silverware and amazingly flavorful food that wasn’t Americanized.
My boyfriend got the curry goat and I got the curry chicken. Both came with a heaping plate full of rice and peas, stewed turnip greens, fried plantains, and a Johnny cake. Typically the stewed turnip greens would be replaced with stewed cabbage, but I actually liked the turnip greens better.
The fried plantains were the best I’d ever had – definitely fried to perfection so I’m glad we ordered extra! The curry goat was tender and juicy and the chicken was perfectly seasoned.
One thing that I loved and have been trying to recreate at home is a hot ginger tea that the cook (which I assume was Sam Griggs) made by crushing a large piece of ginger (skin on) and boiling it in water. Then he added a little sugar which was so simple but really had a gingery bite to it that was just what I needed to beat the cold.
If you are ever in Asheville, definitely try this place – you won’t regret it!