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A ‘PeppaThyme and place’ - Restaurant gets crafty with combos

Published:Thursday | December 17, 2020 | 12:21 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
Chickens is jerked to perfection on pimento wood over a uniquely designed grill.
Chickens is jerked to perfection on pimento wood over a uniquely designed grill.
The entrance to the spacious dining area of PeppaThyme.
The entrance to the spacious dining area of PeppaThyme.
PeppaThyme has a mix of chicken, pork and fish, as well as, a wide range of sides.
PeppaThyme has a mix of chicken, pork and fish, as well as, a wide range of sides.
Among the best sellers at PeppaThyme, jerked chicken and sides like specially cut fries and corn.
Among the best sellers at PeppaThyme, jerked chicken and sides like specially cut fries and corn.
Co-owner of PeppaThyme, Shelley Sterling.
Co-owner of PeppaThyme, Shelley Sterling.
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Turning out authentic jerk for the past two and a half years, PeppaThyme has managed to take its customers on a palate-pleasing journey even during a pandemic when Jamaicans are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible. It hasn’t been without challenges. The restaurant has had its share, from the initial groundbreaking stages to waiting on the green light of having their name approved; then having the business interrupted by the Constant Spring Road improvement, and just when it was thought that this would be the year to start afresh, the pandemic hits.

“We’ve had our baptism by fire; but part of why we took the opportunity to establish a business like this right here is because all of us, having grown up on this side of town, experienced when there weren’t a lot of options for food places. If you wanted anything other than the usual burger, fried chicken and patty, you would have to move further into the Corporate Area,” she said.

Adding that, “Even now, with a lot more restaurants opening up in and around the space, there are more food choices, but nowhere like PeppaThyme close by. When you come in, you feel removed from the busy urban lifestyle, though you can still hear the traffic in the distance,” Sterling said.

HIDDEN TREASURE

The hidden in plain sight treasure – just a few steps away from the tax office and next door the golf course and the Immaculate Conception High School and Convent – offers a menu and spacious outdoor dining that effortlessly transports customers to any countryside jerk spot.

PeppaThyme gives the ingredients that many think they have to go out of town to find, like chicken marinated all the way through to the bone with signature formulations of jerk seasoning, herbs and spices, plus the essence of pimento wood, artisan and smoked sausages, savoury boneless pork, and a diverse menu option of sides. Chicken is the bestseller but pork is her favourite meat, Sterling confessed, noting that pork, more than any other meat is misconstrued that after spending time on the grill it is dry, but the pork she described cooked for about three hours, emerging from the grill jerked to perfection, moist and flavourful.

And while nothing compares to taking a drive to the countryside to unearth restaurants like these, it is a magnet for families who just want to eat and be merry. PeppaThyme’s PeppaToGo combos boast a variety of quick, tasty options for persons looking for a flavourful, affordable lunch or in-between meal. It also features a $3,500 family-sized combo which includes one whole chicken, two large servings of rice and peas and four servings of corn, or persons can pay $4,800 for the combo with a half-pound serving of pork.

Sterling told The Gleaner the restaurant has even had requests to not to cut up the whole chicken. “It’s a slightly strange request and oftentimes think, ‘hmm, wonder if they’re trying to pretend they cooked it’, but it’s up to our customers and we serve it however they want it because nothing is wrong with buying part of a meal and constructing the rest of it. When I am lazy, I buy chicken breast and convert it to other things, or I buy the artisan sausage to make fried rice; it prevents you from the headache of making part of the meal,” she shared.

“It’s difficult for families at this time, balancing everything, so ordering a family-sized combo it means having a semi-homemade meal. We also cater, but unfortunately we are not open on Christmas Day and it’s one of two days out of the year outside of Mondays when we are closed, that we do not open. This time last year we actually hosted family gatherings, customer appreciations and other events.”

However, since they are unable to wine and dine customers their crafty alternative came to life.

“What we have been doing for several companies, since they can’t have staff lunch or a Christmas dinner or party, is put together a box lunch menu where we also included some foods that’s not part of our regular menu, like rice and gungo peas and gungo peas soup, and ham. It can be tailored to what persons want, some even requested curry goat. Then these boxes are delivered,” she said.

“In the early stages of the pandemic, when dining was restricted, we added the kerbside service, where our staff takes the meal out to you and though we were always doing delivery, we are doing more delivery now. With the pressing concerns of the health pandemic it was important for PeppaThyme to play our part in helping to reduce exposure and minimise people’s risk.”

stephanie.lyew@gleanerjm.com