LET ME BE REAL: THIS WILL NOT BE THE TYPICAL RESTAURANT REVIEW.
Why? I’ll get there.
First, I want to say that 90 percent of the people I told that I was reviewing A&D Jamaican Restaurant in Rapid City had zero idea what I was talking about. I only found out because my foodie friend Erin Zieske (see her home feature on page 38) recommended it, and lives for places like this. And that’s exactly why I brought her with me to give it a try on a frigid afternoon.
We walked into the casual eatery, which is in a strip mall on North Lacrosse, and we were greeted by a thrown-off Deloris Nicholson (aka Pauline).
“My sons were supposed to be here,” she said with calm frustration as she prepped behind the food and register counter.
She called them and—while I tried not to eavesdrop—she muttered something along the lines of, “Don’t you dare,” several times. I don’t think the call was going well.
Anyways, it turned out the sons were not coming, so Pauline said she would plate us some options to try. Erin went right to the beverage fridge (she had done this song and dance before) and grabbed a D&G Kola Champagne—a Jamaican soft drink that encourages you to “stay kool.” This is just one of many ways the owners bring their “tasty heritage” to the Black Hills.
The ambiance itself did take me back to Negril, Jamaica where I got to visit several times with my family growing up. A painting of Bob Marley was the prime conversation piece, and red, yellow, and green were used tastefully throughout the establishment.
Pauline brought over a plethora of options on two foam plates. It wasn’t the most attractive presentation, but that’s not really the point here. The point is to offer traditional and authentic Jamaican food.
This is where the review differs from others. The menu is behind the counter on a letterboard (how trendy, even though I don’t think they meant to be), and simply says things like Oxtail or the daily special said Brown Stew Pork.
That’s it. No description. No telling what sides you get. Nothing.
It was even more confusing that we were served with samples of a bunch of items, so at times I wasn’t even sure what I was eating (until Erin looked at me with a little disappointment and told me).
The first item we tried was the Goat Curry. This came with carrots, corn, and potato dumplings, which Pauline said they called “Spinners” because of how you roll them in the cooking process. Each meal comes with a Spinner, which I’m not sure if it’s Jamaican tradition or just a side they specialize in.
Erin made several noises of satisfaction.
“Goat is an underutilized ingredient, in my opinion,” she said. “You can get chicken or shrimp at any place. How often do you get a place that does goat and does it so well?”
I took a couple of bites, and what would become the theme of the meats is it just melted as I cut and bit into it.
“It’s not all that different from a corned beef texture,” said Erin, nibbling.
Pauline had sat down with us and was still attempting to get the sons there. Though she was on a mission, she was a hoot to chat with, and suddenly jolted up when she realized she forgot the house Jerk Sauce.
“Oh yeah, don’t want to forget that,” said Erin (she had been there enough where Pauline recognized her—g’bless).
Next I took a bite of the Oxtail and dipped it in the sauce. My neck tweaked and I made an overly-dramatic sound.
“Oh man, the spiciness slaps your tongue,” I said. “Holy wow.”
Pauline stared at me and chuckled, “Are you serious?”
Again, I’m such a baby. But this does pack a punch, so I dabbed it just a bit for the rest of the trial.
The sauce, though used for anything, is made primarily for Jerk Chicken, which I tried a few bites of.
“You have to use that one in the dip,” said Pauline as she pointed.
She was right. The chicken was my favorite thus far, and I grabbed a bite of Pork and dipped that as well. There was also a side of rice and beans, which were delicious.
The restaurant opened last spring, and in April they will be celebrating their one-year anniversary.
“When I go somewhere I like to get something I don’t make at home,” noted Erin as we finished up.
That is one of the many reasons why A&D is unique and is a must-stop in South Dakota.
Now if they could just work on the menu so you know exactly what you’re eating…
710 N. Lacrosse St., Rapid City // 605.719.3021 // Facebook
RICE & PEAS
The restaurant is very casual and can seat up to 30, but it’s set up so you can easily take your meal to-go. Grab a beverage and order up at the counter as you chat with the very friendly staff. I loved the Jamaican vibe with the bright colors that warmed me up that afternoon.
Besides the sons not being there when they were supposed to, Pauline was life. She was so fun to talk to, and I almost didn’t want to leave when we were done eating. If you’re new to Jamaican cuisine, they’re more than happy to answer any questions and/or give suggestions on what to try or how to eat it (don’t forget the house sauce).
A&D is just such a different experience. Where else can you get Jerk Chicken and Oxtail? And I had never heard of a Spinner before. It mixes things up in the local culinary world. Erin had a great idea and came with a group of friends for her first visit. They ordered the whole menu so they could all share and try everything. Genius.
Rating Scale: Ambiance ++++ | Service ***** | Taste ++++
It's the Facts
- OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK 11 A.M. – 8 P.M.
- BRINGING CHILDREN? IF JAMAICAN FARE IS TOO RISKY, A&D OFFERS CHICKEN STRIPS AND FRIEDS, CORN DOGS AND TATER TOTS, AND MAC & CHEESE.
- FEELING LIKE STAYING IN? A&D IS ON BITE SQUAD.