M-Sa, 10AM-10PM, Su 12PM - 7 PM
(609) 396-1300 Google Maps
Gravitas: Decor: Cost: Proximity:
With the name Bamboo Grill, you’re more likely to think of a Chinese take-out than a Jamaican one. But the emphasis here is decidedly West Indies, not East. BG serves up, to my palate, the best West Indian food in town. And that’s saying something in Trenton, which has seen several good West Indian restaurants pop up in recent years.
Damion, BG’s affable owner, explains that in Portland, Jamaica, where he grew up, they lived surrounded by bamboo forests (presumably transplanted from places Eastern). So, for him, it is a natural connection. As far as I’m concerned, he can call it whatever he wants. The food is great!
BG is a tiny restaurant on Chambers St, just a block south of where Papa’s used to be (now La Chapinita). There is a tiny counter on the side where you could eat in a pinch, but it’s pretty much takeout only*.
The menu is straight-forward. You get a choice of meat entree in small, medium, or large: Curry Chicken, Brown Stew Chicken, Fried Chicken, Jerk Chicken, Jerk Pork, or Oxtail (plus specials). Red Snapper and Shrimp are also on the menu, but you’re advised to call at least 30 minutes ahead if you intend to order them.
The meat comes with one “side” plus your choice of white rice or “rice and peas”, which is a spicy rice with what look like small, red pinto beans mixed in.
The sides are all vegan friendly, except for Mac & Cheese, which is vegetarian. Vegetarians can order a “Veggie Platter” which is an entree portion of any one side dish, plus rice and another side. This is why we rate BG both Vegan and Veggie friendly.
Vegan-friendly sides include steamed cabbage, green beans, callaloo (a green similar to spinach, which BG grows in its back yard). Non-vegetarians can also order four different kinds of soups: Chicken, Fish, Red Peas (meat flavored), or Manish Water, i.e. goat.
On a recent visit, my wife ordered Oxtails (what can I say? She loved her English grandma) and I ordered the jerk pork. We shared the sides including cabbage (just fine), mac&cheese (very good, but not quite as good as Thomasena’s), and the callaloo (What a fantastic green! It’s mild, similar to spinach, but with just a hint of the exotic. We both loved it).
The Jerk pork was the best I’ve ever had. Smoky, spicy, with a distinct tang and a hint of sweetness. Just fabulous. I have to admit I’m not a huge oxtail fan, but my wife was in nostalgic bliss, and loved hers. The rice & beans were great, and in conjunction with the callaloo, we fell utterly in love with this joint.
We each ordered a “medium” portion. Despite being pretty hungry, we ate our fill, and were still able to pack away leftovers adequate for a light second meal for the two of us.
*For a real Hidden Trenton experience, feel free to take your food in to the now misnamed Championship Sports Bar and Grill a few feet down the street. This is a wonderfully friendly bar, now the center of Trenton’s street art scene (not a sport bar at all) and which no longer has a grill. You will undoubtedly NOT be the only patron there chowing down on Bamboo Grill’s food.