Tasting Jamaican at Back A Yard and Miss Ollie's
Chef Sarah Kirnon (formerly of the aforementioned Hibiscus) launched Miss Ollie's at the beginning of December, currently open only for Tuesday-Friday lunch in a corner location of Swan's Market in Old Oakland. During the first week lines were already long and waits for food even longer (30 minutes), not ideal for a low-key, eat-in, or takeout lunch. Despite opening kinks, Oakland is clearly craving quality Caribbean, packing communal wooden tables in a spacious, spare dining room.
Named after, and in tribute to, Kirnon's grandmother, the food is decidedly more casual than that of her Hibiscus days, modeled after the Caribbean one-stop shops she grew up with: affordable (under $10) daily changing dishes from curry goat to her popular fried chicken — grandma's recipe. Initially, dishes were uneven, whether flavorless, cold Creole ham and sweet potato salad ($7.50), or a two-note (salty and HOT) saltfish and ackee ($8), begging for more plantains and ackee to contrast Scotch bonnet peppers and over-salty cod. But Miss Ollie's sorrel is a superior, refreshing rendition, while lamb patties ($7) in a puff pastry evoke an Indian-Caribbean empanada, redolent of cardamom and allspice.
Daily specials, like fresh loaves of Jamaican hard dough bread or Chicory coffee sweetened by condensed milk with Creole doughnuts, are announced via Facebook. Miss Ollie's fills a needed void and is certainly one to watch.
901 Washington, Oakl., (510) 285-6188, www.facebook.com/MissOllies
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