Happy Accident at 14 Parishes

Last weekend, John and I intended to check out Jazzy Pete’s, a new restaurant that opened recently in our old neighborhood on Oak Street. When we got there, I was both surprised and dismayed to discover it was no longer there. While standing there stupefied in front of the now non-existent po-boy place, I saw Elizabeth walk by, our old neighbor and owner of Blue Cypress Books. I waved hello and called out “What happened to Jazzy Pete’s?” She said “Shitty food, shitty service!” It must have been pretty bad considering it was open less than month, but according to the sign on the door (and NOLA.com), Mexican restaurant Mucho Más by Tacos Del Cartel chef Julio Machado will be opening up there this fall.

Though it’ll be great to have a Mexican restaurant on Oak Street, John and I were still left in the lurch for dinner. As we were walking back to the car, debating our options, we happened upon 14 Parishes, a Jamaican restaurant that recently opened inside the old Mellow Mushroom pizza joint. I’d enjoyed some excellent oxtail from 14 Parishes at downtown food hall Pythian Market a couple of years ago and, though his heart was set on a po-boy, I sold John on the idea.

The restaurant had just been cleaned and people were starting to arrive, some picking up phone orders and others seeking to dine in. Our hostess/server was friendly and attentive, and all of the staff and patrons (aside from those who were eating or drinking) were masked up.

Though I would’ve loved to try the curried chana and potato vegetarian dish or some coconut shrimp, I was trying to stay as close to keto as I could. I opted for the jerk shrimp — large griddled Gulf beauties with stewed cabbage and callaloo – ie. Jamaican veggie dish of greens (spinach in this case) with onions, garlic and peppers. John ordered jerk pork ribs with spinach rice and “festival” – a Jamaican take on the beignet made with cornmeal. Though I didn’t think the shrimp needed anything, I did try dipping one into their jerk sauce. Now, I am definitely not an expert on Jamaican food, but it tasted like store-bought BBQ sauce, sweet and smoky. Since I’m not a huge fan of that backyard-type BBQ sauce and could tell it had lots of sugar, I avoided it, but still enjoyed the meal. It felt like we were eating home-cooked food, which was both plentiful and tasty. Especially with the addition of their Scotch Bonnet hot sauce!

Even though I couldn’t really eat dessert, I convinced John to eat one for me, so I could try just one small bite. Though he was reluctant, after he got a taste of their salted caramel cheesecake with mango pineapple rum sauce, he wouldn’t let me near it! We both agreed it was easily one of the best cheesecakes we’d ever tasted. It hit all of those flavor highs — salty, sweet, and tangy. Serendipity never tasted so good!

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