Some of the best eating in Los Angeles can be found in the nondescript strip malls that dot the region. The ordinary exterior of Front Page Jamaican Grille belies the riches that await inside. To say that it is a small restaurant is to make it seem grander and larger than it really is. A little spot with more takeout business than dine in, the seating consists of half a dozen tables inside and a few outside. The Inglewood restaurant near LAX has not gone unnoticed, as the menu's front cover highlights a positive review by Thi Nguyen that appeared in the LA Times in August 2010. I had meant to try it, but had forgotten about Front Page Grille until I saw a writeup about it in the excellent new blog Aerospace Lunch.
The menu has a large variety of meals that all come with rice and beans, mixed steamed vegetables and fried plantains and can be ordered in small or large. In addition to the typical Jamaican meat dishes such jerk chicken, oxtails and curry goat, they also have a large selection of fish on the menu. (Note that fish dishes should be ordered 30 minutes in advance, so plan ahead if you want to order them or be prepared to wait.)
I began a recent visit with a Beef Patty ($2.50). The crust was light and flaky and the ground beef inside had a good consistency but it wasn't as flavorful as I had hoped. The appearance and texture were spot on, but it the patty needed a little kick to it to make it great. Chicken, veggie and fish patties are also available.
One of the signature offerings is the Jerk Chicken. You can get it breast only, which I did. The small pictured below ($8.50) was more than ample. The chicken was juicy and flavorful with just the right amount of spices. Not a four alarm fire but with more than a little bite. The chicken sat on a bed of rice and beans mixed together with a small portion of fried plantains and some cabbage on the side. The chicken juice/sauce was delicious and enriched the flavor of the rice and beans.
A return visit offered the opportunity to try the much lauded goat. The curry goat ($9.75 for a small) was a healthy portion of falling off of the bone tender goat. The goat meat lay on a bed of the rice and beans, with several plantains on top and some of the cabbage on the side. Goat meat can sometimes be chewy or hard to get off of the bone, but the meat was well prepared and tasted like it had been simmering in the sauce for hours as the flavor of the curry imbued every bite. While certainly not for everyone, if you enjoy goat meat, the effort to separate the goat from the small bones is well worth the reward.
I have yet to try the fish dishes as they require half an hour's advance notice, but am already debating whether to get the oxtails or the fish on my next visit. Next time I land hungry at LAX, I will forget about In and Out and head to the Front Page.
Front Page Grille: 1117 West Manchester Blvd, 1 block East of Aviation. Phone: (310) 216-9521. Website: http://www.frontpagejamaicangrille.com/index.html