Brown's Jamaican- Palm Bay/Malabar Rd- 4-Stars
Eh mon, don't ya know all the Jamaica jokes? How when we devour a succulently roasted jerk chicken, we tell the chef "Jamaican me crazy"? Well, today we can safely say "Jamaican me fat!" Because this little island seems to belie its teensy little size by being more determined than McDonald's to Super Size you Big Boy readers. Just try to guess how many dishes I ordered and you will be wrong! But I bet you can at least guess now what percentage of them was tasty and understand just why this restaurant is so dangerous to your diet! Call up your doctor and say their second mortgage is no longer needed because Brown's is in town!
As soon as you pass by the door, you're taken by the gung-ho attitude of the window design, its trisectional window and bright island colored letters hiding the subtlest hint of attitude - the name comes out as "Brown's Jamaican Restaurant!" Ya mon, the gratuitous exclamation point. As you've seen in previous articles, a warm exterior is a popular tactic to make you forget the food sucks, but for better or for worse, you never know until you try, do you?
Then you walk in to an interior about as luxurious as you would expect in an island flat, the Caribbean brother of down-home BBQ joints complete with low-rent menu numbering. But hey, do you expect Tour d'Argent when you come to the Caribbean? I certainly hope not for these prices, which are quite reasonable even for "Large" sized portions. Don't get me wrong, it's no dump, just simple and homely - but it's unpretentious enough to make you appreciate the owner Thomas, his cordiality and enthusiasm permeating the otherwise blocky walls as orange-yellow as a Scotch bonnet. The visual focus is placed squarely on his culinary handiwork everywhere inside the building for good reason - the baked goods sit out front, rubbed in your face like Fido treats as you can almost hear Thomas saying "Come," and LOOK so obviously freshly made. I guess that's an apt description of what your stomach would say after you're ensnared by the sight and smell of home-cooked Jamaican food around every corner and get the urge to order basically everything.
There seems to be a law of inverse proportions lately between the quality of the furnishings and the food, so it's fortunate that Big Boy focuses squarely on the latter. Two patties, one spicy and one ackee and saltfish, and a slice of coconut bread, that just as your nose guessed, are clearly made in house from fresh ingredients, like everything else. And the ackee doesn't actually kill you, so instead you can continue to eat yourself to death!
Red pea soup, that even if Jamaicans actually make it with red kidney beans, doesn't make you want to take a "pea" - smooth and rich tasting. Forget about those mushy peas you had to eat in British primary school, the Jamaicans decided to do their own thing 56 years ago and kick butt at it!
Homemade juices and drinks, spanning flavors as exotic as sorrel and Irish moss, served in custom-designed label bottles with an ingredient list you can spell even if you skipped history class and tried to pay for your meal with pound sterling. Eat your heart out Jamba Juice! Okay, something healthy along the way...that's cheating, isn't it? Let's get back on track with the main courses that when combined would make a man so fat that everyone who drives around him would run out of gas!
Three humongous Styrofoam containers of stewed and curry chicken, and the ne plus ultra of stews here, the oxtail with beans. Don't be fooled or tempted by the soupçon of cabbage slaw with vividly colored peas, carrots and kernels of corn hanging off it, as tasty as it may be - get yourself carbloaded by the rice and peas on the side, with meat sweats to boot! And yeah, if you're still not dead yet, work it all off by swimming 735 miles across the Gulf of Mexico to Jamaica which should burn off all 500,000 calories or so!
Oh, except there's one little snag. Cuba's in the way. I never did pay attention in geography class. But the one thing I have been fortunate enough to learn at Brown's is that Jamaica is a country with enormous culinary wealth and judging it by a couple of poor restaurants amidst the proliferation of Caribbean treasure in a state with almost 250,000 Jamaicans was very unwise. There might not be a jerk chicken in every pot in Florida, but there were plenty more fish in the sea, and I'm proud to say Brown's is the catch of the day!
There may be a little yellow sign near the cash register that says the equivalent of "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas," but if Big Boy followed that rule you wouldn't be reading this, would you? Nor might you know about the best Jamaican food in Palm Bay!
The Big Boy says "Brown's is Jamaican - the competition is JamaiCan't!" #iamthebigboy #bigboydiningout