Over the past few years Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights has seen lots of change, as Caribbean restaurants and discount stores have been replaced by farm-to-table eateries, cocktail bars, and trendy sandwich shops. So it was a bit surprising when the owner of one of those trendy sandwich shops–Glady’s, which opened last spring with grilled halloumi and pea shoot-topped ciabattas–announced they were switching focus and now serving exclusively…wait for it…Caribbean food. Hmm. Just when you think you understand gentrification. Well I don’t know what to think about this one.
Glady’s owner Michael Jacober says he was looking for something new to inspire him and spent a month in Jamaica sampling food and seeking to understand authentic local cuisine. Inspired by both the islands and the neighborhood around him, he shut down Glady’s for the month and brought it back with an interior that’s been spruced up by a few Island-y touches and a menu that’s all Jamaican.
So what does Glady’s take on Jamaican food look like? Well, first of all there are still fancy cocktails, although the focus is now on all things rum, including several dozen available by the glass, five rum flights, and a “dark and slushie”–Gosling’s black rum frozen up with ginger and lime.
Meals start with complementary small bites of mango and cucumber pickle, and the the menu is straightforward, featuring a selection of jerk entrees–pork, chicken and even seitan–all quite reasonably priced at $7 to $9 per half-pound (a very ample serving, more than enough for one). Jerk lobster, plucked live from the tank in the dining room, goes for $28. There’s also stewed oxtail, curry goat and peppered shrimp, plus traditional sides like yams, plantains and “festival”–fried cornbread fritters.
All of my first bites were delicious. The wood-fired jerk pork is perfectly charred on the outside, juicy and tender throughout. A sticky serving of rice and peas is steeped in coconut milk for a deep, rich flavor–topped with the tableside jerk sauce, it’s as tasty as any you’ll find in Crown Heights. Plus, for dessert they brought by another complimentary small bite of coconut ice cream.
Glady’s also offers take-out, and those who were sad to see their cheesy sandwiches go away will be glad to hear they’ve annexed a small place next door, where they plan to bring back some of their beloved meals-on-bread this summer.
So what is one to think of the new Glady’s? On the one hand, for those of us concerned about being “good gentrifiers,” it seems somehow not quite right to choose this spot as the place to get your Caribbean food fix when there are already so many longstanding neighborhood joints to choose from. On the other hand, Glady’s is comfortable, friendly and affordable–and seems to be striving to serve Crown Heights’ diverse clientele. Plus, I mean, where else are you gonna get a dark and slushie?
788 Franklin Avenue, at Lincoln Place; 718-622-0249; gladysnyc.com