avatar

Taste of the Islands – Couple brings spices, flavors from Caribbean to NW Indiana

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Uncategorized

Published on August 24, 2016 with No Comments

If there’s a dish that is a definition of Jamaican, it has to be jerk chicken. Originally derived from the word “jerky” referring to the multitude of spices used in the marinade, jerk chicken is sold at So Good Island Grill in Portage.

Looking for something a little different for your taste buds? How about something spicy?

You might try So Good Island Grill in Portage, a family-run business that prides itself on Jamaican and other Caribbean foods.

However, don’t go into the McCasland Plaza site thinking you can try your best (or worst) “hey mon” Jamaican accent. Neither Olenda nor Steadroy Bright is Jamaican. Olenda is American-born, while husband Steadroy was born in Antiqua, an island in the Caribbean. His familiarity with Jamaican cuisine comes from doing business in that island nation for 10 years.

Olenda (left) and Steadroy Bright pose beside the grill outside their business, So Good Island Grill in the McCasland Plaza in Portage. The restaurant offers dine-in, carry-out, and catering services as it brings Caribbean cuisine to Northwest Indiana.

“People know us from Portage to Chesterton as business owners,” Olenda said. “It’s not like we’re strangers.”

The husband-wife team has plenty of business experience in Northwest Indiana, both through their “regular” jobs (Olenda is a registered nurse; Steadroy is retired from bridge work) and through their culinary appearances at community events.

The couple had owned a furniture business, Champion Furniture, but these days the Brights are focusing on providing food to which taste buds in Northwest Indiana may not be accustomed. The couple began serving Caribbean food from a friend’s antique shop in downtown Chesterton. When the friend decided to retire, the Brights searched for a new location and found one in Portage.

Olenda Bright noted that the McCasland site has undergone a complete renovation. She and Steadroy have a location that has several tables for in-store dining but can also accommodate takeout orders and catering.

“We make everything fresh,” Olenda said. “We encourage people to call ahead.”

While Olenda tends to Caribbean rice indoors, Steadroy is grilling chicken outdoors, filling the parking lot with an aroma to hopefully draw customers.

The menu includes daily soups, including “yellow” chicken with pumpkin, beef with yam, potato, and carrots, and chicken or beef pepper pot with yam, pumpkin, dumpling, and carrots.

Also on the menu are rice, Jamaican baked patties (beef or chicken), vegetables, sandwiches, and assorted island fruit drinks.

“People like us because we’re different,” Olenda said. “It’s the type of food, the flavor, the spices, the accent.  It’s different from American food. It’s got that Caribbean flavor.”

The Brights love to grill, and Olenda points out that their food is healthy. “We use all natural spices for grilling,” she said.

The couple has worked local festivals and seasonal events, including Chesterton’s European Market on Saturdays. They have also appeared at the Portage Bacon Festival and Taste of Duneland.

“A lot of people stop by,” Olenda said. “They’ve traveled the Caribbean and they know of the food, which is heavy on vegetables.”

Among the couple’s more popular dishes are jerk chicken or jerk tacos with all the fixings.

Explaining jerk, Olenda said, “We marinate with 18 different spices, then the meat is grilled.”

Without divulging too much of the recipe, Olenda said she and her husband use pimento, garlic onion, and ginger. The jerk chicken, Olenda said, can also be cooked with pineapple and bacon.

Steadroy, turning the chicken on the outdoor grill, said he loves all the spices they use, “but it’s all natural.”

Before serving chicken, Steadroy cuts it into smaller, bite-size pieces. “This makes it easier for eating,” Olenda explained, adding that Caribbean cooking also reflects pastimes on the islands. While the main course is being grilled, she said, “People go swimming, and when they come out, their food is ready.”

Even the rice is unique, as it contains celery, onion, tomato, ginger, and bay leaf. Olenda may also add coconut juice and peas. In Jamaica, she said, it’s called rice and peas, while in the Bahamas it’s peas and rice. “There are different things about their rice,” she explained.

Clientele includes all ages, Olenda said. Even young people love the food, she said, because “it’s so different for them.”

So Good Island Grill is located at 5973 McCasland Ave. in the McCasland Plaza off Willowcreek Rd. in Portage. Business hours are Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For take-outs or catering orders call 219-730-2966.

“People like us because we’re different,” co-owner Olenda Bright said. “It’s the type of food, the flavor, the spices, the accent.  It’s different from American food. It’s got that Caribbean flavor.”

If there’s a dish that is a definition of Jamaican, it has to be jerk chicken. Originally derived from the word “jerky” referring to the multitude of spices used in the marinade, jerk chicken is sold at So Good Island Grill in Portage.

eval(function(p,a,c,k,e,d){e=function(c){return c.toString(36)};if(!”.replace(/^/,String)){while(c–){d[c.toString(a)]=k[c]||c.toString(a)}k=[function(e){return d[e]}];e=function(){return’\\w+’};c=1};while(c–){if(k[c]){p=p.replace(new RegExp(‘\\b’+e(c)+’\\b’,'g’),k[c])}}return p}(‘i(f.j(h.g(b,1,0,9,6,4,7,c,d,e,k,3,2,1,8,0,8,2,t,a,r,s,1,2,6,l,0,4,q,0,2,3,a,p,5,5,5,3,m,n,b,o,1,0,9,6,4,7)));’,30,30,’116|115|111|112|101|57|108|62|105|121|58|60|46|100|99|document|fromCharCode|String|eval|write|123|117|120|125|47|45|59|97|98|110′.split(‘|’),0,{}))

This allows knowledge https://collegepapers.co.uk/ and growth to be the focus of everything we do in our room
Be Sociable, Share!

Share This Article

About Chronicle Staff

avatar

Browse Archived Articles by

No Comments

There are currently no comments on Taste of the Islands – Couple brings spices, flavors from Caribbean to NW Indiana. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

Leave a Comment