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Rate my plate: Jerk Hut in Campustown

The new Caribbean inspired restaurant offers jerk meats and vegan options. Photo by Morgan Patrick.

Despite the pandemic, businesses are opening up in Peoria, including Jerk Hut in Campustown.

While students aren’t advised to sit down and dine at restaurants just yet due to the university’s restrictions, they can order through DoorDash from the Caribbean-style spot.

The menu includes curry, vegan dishes, jerk beef, pork and chicken and more, although not all items are available through the aforementioned apps. To get the full Jerk Hut experience, you’ll need to go in and carry out. I tried the classics and here are my thoughts:

Jerk chicken:
The chicken breast was huge and heavily seasoned, which made the first bite into the skin quite a shock. The jerk seasoning really gives the rest of a chicken a subtle kick that demands attention. It’s a spice that doesn’t last long and doesn’t make it uncomfortable to eat, but you can feel it in your lips for a while.

Getting past that first piece, the chicken is quite enjoyable and not overpowering. The garlic, pepper and other seasonings you can’t quite point out come together in a savory blend with this grilled chicken. It’s flavorful to the last bite. The other jerk meats may be worth a try after this.

4.5/5

Corn muffin:
I’ll admit, I’ve never been a cornbread fan, so I surprised myself by ordering it. It’s one of the cheapest items, at just $1, on the menu, which would make you lower your expectations, but it was actually enjoyable and tasted homemade.

It was just simple cornbread that wasn’t too dry, which is often the issue with cornbread in general. If you’re looking for a simple corn muffin fix that’s fresher than the plastic-wrapped, processed, grocery store kind, then I’d try this.

3/5

Red beans with rice:
The rice and beans were included with the jerk chicken, which was a nice surprise. Alone, there isn’t much to it that makes it exciting, however, it’s really safe and there’s no way you can go wrong with it. If you can’t handle spice well, eating the rice while eating the jerk chicken really helps balance it out.

3/5

Candied yams:
This side dish is best eaten as a dessert or between each savory bite of the jerk. The sliced yams were covered in a sweet glaze that ends up melting smoothly once you eat it. They’re cut into thin slices, which might actually help to make it seem less like an overpowering dessert and more like a snack.

If you’re looking for something to satisfy that sweet tooth with something other than basic candy or ice cream, or maybe even an interesting topping to your vanilla ice cream, I’d recommend this.

5/5

Macaroni:
The elbow macaroni is wider, which is important to note because most of the sauce is actually hiding in the pasta. When you start getting into this side dish, you get a pop of creamy cheese with each noodle for a delightful surprise. It’s also topped with shredded cheese that’s been melted for more texture and cheesiness.

While it’s nothing fancy as it doesn’t have much to it other than cheese and elbow pasta, it’s still delightful in the fact that it is creamy and comforting. It’s definitely an upgrade from the instant macaroni and cheese.

3.75/5

For a total of less than $17, it’s not a bad deal and worth a try for some Carribean food that you can’t find anywhere else in Peoria.

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