It seems like Josh and I are starting some sort of tradition around Husky basketball games. If we go to dinner before the game we end up going to some place more divey. If we go after, we go to some place more upscale. For this game we decided to go to dinner beforehand. So, I was flipping through my list of restaurants, and came up with one that was not only a Top 100 in Seattle, but also one that showed up on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. It’s called Pam’s Kitchen, a joint serving authentic Trinidadian cuisine (channeling my inner Guy Fieri).
Pam’s Kitchen is located on a street loving referred to by most of the University of Washington students as simply “The Ave” (which my friend Nick will completely point out isn’t even an avenue…rather the name of the street is University Way). The Ave is an interesting place; offering a little bit of something for everyone. There are dives and nice places, cheap eats for students, vintage clothing, bookstores and pretty much everything you can think of crammed into about 10 blocks. It’s as diverse as the college campus that is only a few feet away. Pam’s definitely fits right in.
The restaurant itself is a pretty simple place. It’s narrow and deep with some high tables on your left when you walk in, and a couple smaller ones filling the remaining floor space. The waiting area is below the stairs that lead up to something…couldn’t really tell. And the kitchen is all the way in the back. There appeared to be only one waitress making her way through the dining area.
We were seated quickly and flipped through the short menu; there are only about 8 entree choices and a couple of appetizers. We decided to go each go with a different roti, Josh lamb and goat for me, and then split an order of jerk chicken since that looked better than any of the available appetizers. And of course we had to go with a citrus rum punch as there couldn’t be anything that sound more Caribbean on the menu. We close the menus and got to talking. It probably took about 15 minutes before the one waitress made her way over to us to take our order.
Our citrus punch drinks came right out, and were awesome! A good amount of rum, and sweet citrusy goodness. It was one of those drinks that makes me think about sitting on a beach, enjoying the sun, and just relaxing. A great party drink that you could have about 5 of before even realizing it. And it was a nice drink to have and pass the time as we waited for our food…probably another 15 – 20 minutes. We did get a little salad while we were waiting. It was ok; some shredded lettuce, a couple tomatoes, an apple. It reminded me of the little salad that you always get with teriyaki…almost pointless in the grand scheme of things.
Finally, our food arrived, and as soon as the scents hit me, my mouth started watering. The roti is a curry dish, so very fragrant with curry and other spices; very reminiscent of Indian curries. There was a nice broth, and potatoes to accompany it, as well as a bread called paratha which was like naan, but a bit fluffier and lighter. I tore off a piece of the paratha, took a nice scoop of goat and potatoes, and took a bite. The first thing I noticed was that I forgot the goat was bone-in…d’oh! But the flavors were excellent. The goat wasn’t as gamey as I was expecting, and was pretty tender and flavorful. The potatoes were very tender, and the curry itself was very flavorful, with a good bit of spice to it. Overall, the dish was very much like a deconstructed stew, but with curry spices. There were a couple bites of goat that didn’t come off the bone so easy, but for the most part, everything was excellent.
After a couple bites of the roti, I turned to the jerk chicken. I had been expecting a dry rub chicken leg, but it was actually a sauce like a barbecue sauce. And it was delicious! The chicken was very moist and tender, the seasoning again having a nice heat to it. This was more what I was expecting when I was thinking “Caribbean” flavors, though I was a little surprised that there wasn’t much underlying sweetness. The chicken was served with a sort of fried rice that had similar, though more muted, flavors.
The whole meal was actually incredibly good (well, without the salad). I thoroughly enjoyed just dipping the paratha into the roti broth, or scooping up a bit of the rice and the chicken seasoning. The flavors just explode in your mouth, and leave a small trace of heat at the end. The only real drawback of the evening was that things just moved really slow. Now, I’ve spent time in Hawaii, and know that island time is not the same as mainland time, and I am guessing that Trinidad and Tobago are not significantly different in that philosophy. But in Seattle, things do need to move a little bit faster. I definitely wouldn’t recommend going here if you only have an hour, but since we gave ourselves an hour and half, we were able to make it to the game, just as they finished the national anthem.