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David's Jamaican

In a word: A great place for a jerk.

The specs: #0121
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews by Dennis Getto, Cap Times; David's Jamaican Cuisine on Urbanspoon

JM ate the jerk chicken and ribs.
Nichole ate the curried goat with red beans and rice.
The bill was $23, or $11.50/person, plus tip.
JM gave David's Jamaican a B; Nichole gave David's Jamaican a B- (see our grading rubric).

Latest David's Jamaican news and reviews

Tablecloth

David's has a lot to recommend it. A couple notable shortages (coffee and plain steamed rice) and our inability to grab the server's attention and request a piece of key lime pie at the end of the meal were disappointing, but we'd definitely go back.

As for our dinners, the curried goat had an excellent flavor. After a while, however, Nichole's city-girl nature let the bone fragments (present in every single bite) get the better of her appetite. The hot broccoli slaw was excellent and ample, but the steamed rice with beans was the best part of her meal.

Curried goat

JM said the ribs were the high point of his meal. The chicken, too, fell right off the bone, but was somehow not as moist as could be hoped for.

Jerk chicken and ribs

All in all a good experience that could have been great save for the roadblocks.  And contrary to rumor, they do serve a variety of alcohol to complement a festive meal.

David's ample beverage menu

Comments

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I like David's, with a couple of caveats:

1. Maybe it's just my deodorant, but I've never gotten anything but indifferent service there. I wouldn't say actively surly, but not exactly welcoming, either.

2. There's a Friday buffet, and it's excellent, but ask the price before ordering it (I didn't see it listed on the menu). It's frickin' expensive.

I do think the ribs are the best dish (that I've had there). The chicken has been dry every time I've had it.

Re #1, you're not alone. I was still kind of hungry after giving up the goat, yet could not for the life of me catch the server's eye to ask for a piece of their celebrated key lime pie.

Ditto on #1. I was put off by their disinterest in serving me. After realizing they would never come back to my table, I went to the counter to ask for a water refill. I did get a water refill, along with a huff. An actual huff! Based on this experience, I think they will have a hard time staying in business. I'm not motivated to go back any time soon.

Bit if you ever go there again, tackle down the server and order the warm sweet potato pie. You will not regret it!

But not bit. Sorry!

Must I say it? Yes, I must. "Talk about jerk chicken! Wocka wocka!" Sorry.

Is this in Jamaica?

I do have lunch here every now and then. They have a small, but good lunch buffet. There is always plenty of good food, the pork roast is especially good with beans, rice and veggies all mixed up and a squirt of extra jerk sauce...mmmmm....ribs also excellent. The service is to be desired, and has always been that way here. Not an outright friendly bunch, and that would certainly help their business, but it's really not that much unlike you would expect in Jamaica itself...

My boyfriend is Jamaican and says David's is much better than Jamerica. Though he's not too impressed with the curried goat.

You foodies are way tooo critical. Remember, the best ethnic food experiences are in "mom and pop" style restaurants, which always have issues with service. David's kills Jamerica or Jolly Bob's. It's easily the most authentic Jamaican food in the state.

I can believe it's better than Jolly Bob's. But Jamerica? Have you not met the chef?

i've been going to david's since shortly after the opening. i take EVERYONE i know there! and the service? ...the day after my 21st birthday almost 4 years ago i went to david's with a friend. sadly, they were closed. we saw david taking garbage out as we were turning around in the parking lot and told him we loved his food. he asked if we were coming to eat. when we said "yes! nothing's better than your pineapple tofu! what a shame you're closed!" he waved us in, unlocked the doors, cranked some bob marley and proceeded to cook us 2 giant to-go boxes full of pineapple tofu with red beans and rice along with wrapped silver ware and 2 jamaican orange sodas to complete our picnic lunch! he told us "$12" for the lot!!! i see a lot of people have mentioned the service...i may not get the biggest smile from a server at david's but the man behind the curtain is who keeps me coming back...not to mention the food.

My wife and I live a couple buildings down from David's Jamaican, and LOVE the food. The Friday night buffet is excellent (approx. $11/person), with favorites such as the jerk pork, ribs, and curried goat. If you get there for lunch, their jerk burgers are really good too.

I have noticed that the service is not as inviting as other places, but it could be more of a cultural thing. They were never rude, but were not overly friendly. We go there so often that they now recognize us and are very friendly. Even though some might be put off by the service, the food is well work coming back for.

Ever since I wrecked my car I have been craving the Jerk Pork with steamed vegetables, and since I live on the west side, it has been hard to come by. I, too, have had the experience of calling during non-business hours, and was able to have my food made fresh for me. I have always had prompt service. I haven't noticed if it has been rude, I just want the food!!!

The ladyfriend went to David's with a coworker not too long ago, and found it a pretty unwelcoming place, albeit tasty.

I was there some time ago, and was treated like a long-lost family member. Hard to predict.

But the lunch buffet is mighty fine. Sooner or later, there'll be a Fringe Foods set at David's, but it's backburnered for now.

I see David's has just opened a new place on Beld Street, right near the bike path along Wingra Creek. Can't wait to try it out.

The old Jada's....the end of an era.

Made a second trip to David's on Monona (stay tuned to TDP this week), and was initially greeted coolly. The ladies warmed up a bit after a while, and when the woman who had served me the last time came back out to check on things, the mood lightened significantly. By the end, we were all chit-chatting at the register.

Just ate at the Beld location last night. They re-opened for us when they saw four people hoevering outside. The service was great - they even remedied a mistaken order by giving us additional food. DO NOT skip the delicious 1.95 fried plantains. You will dream about them.

David's food is excellent! I like getting TAKE-OUT best. The take-out portions are HUGE (enough for 2-4 people at least) and you don't have to deal with feeling neglected at the table. If you don't mind the spotty service then go for the lunch buffet. It is a great bargain at $7.95 (I think)and has loads of great food to choose from. The service doesn't bother me because the food is darn good.

I just ate at the Monona location again and I really don't understand the complaints about the service. It's not Applebees. You're not going to get some vacuous grinning barbie doll seating you and the servers won't be wearing flair. But the service is damn good. Knowledgable about the menu, fast and accurate, three things I haven't found at most of the more expensive palces staffed by college kids downtown. I much prefer basic competence to fake friendliness, and David's servers have that.

Went yesterday for the first time and had the lunch buffet [Mon-Fri only]. Very limited selection compared with Indian/Chinese buffets, but vegetarian food I tried was excellent & fresh. Was NOT very spicy and slightly lacked in flavor, but that also probably explains why so many people were there. Probably should have tried the sauces on the table...

They had several different jerked meat options, which I didn't try, but the other customers seemed to like them. The plantains [starchy "baking banana"] tasted surprisingly like a "regular" banana. Overheard a customer ask the cook about them and they were told the plantains were perfectly ripe, so sweeter than normal.

Buffet is STILL about $7.95 and considering the freshness and meat variety I would say it is reasonable, certainly NOT expensive.

HINT: When you come in, they ask how many in your group, and than tell you what number table to sit at. A few customers either had a hard time hearing/understanding that part, but otherwise I would say service was good & prompt, even friendly.

If you've ever been to Jamaica (resorts don't count) you'll find that people are sort of indifferent when it comes to service. I don't think they're unfriendly, just a different culture. It's all "no problem", so if you have American expectations you're going to have a problem. Europe is very similar, different way of doing things. If you want a hug, go to your mom's house; if you want good Jamaican food, go here.

If my Fringe Foods column on ackee and codfish didn't drive the point home hard enough, please note: David's Jamaican is a community asset for their dedication to honest-to-Jah Jamaican fare. Getting fresh ackee is no small feat, and they do it regularly.

Eastsider said it well, and I'd say just boil it down to the last two words. GO HERE.

I agree, the food is wonderful, but the service is quite off putting. If it weren't for the food, I would never go back.

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