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Rhythm offers Carribean food with flavor, spice

Rhythm and Spice

315 Mass Ave.

By Aaron R. Prazan
Staff Reporter

Though often romanticized and visited, the Caribbean does not have a well known cuisine. Owned by Robert D. Jones '86, Cambridge's Rhythm and Spice is one of the few local restaurants that offers the taste of the Caribbean. Having never been to the tropics, I find it difficult to say just how close the MITgrad comes to the real thing, but the fact is the food is good. For people looking close to home for a tasty new flavor, Rhythm and Spice is an excellent - if a little pricey - choice.

Rhythm is a fun place to eat. Icy cool drinks like the pink Jamaican Voodoo cocktail and fantastic margaritas can be had with or without alcohol and make a perfect first course to a tropical meal. Loud reggae plays in the dining room and there is live music on the weekends. A large dining room and bar accommodate groups large or small. With the last day of classes coming near, Rhythm and Spice could be the perfect place to relax and have a good time after finals.

Rhythm's food is satisfying. Appetizers, which are two for one on Sunday and Wednesday nights, include chewy conch fritters, jerk-spiced chicken wings, and fried plantains. The plantains closely resemble bananas, but taste more like baked potatoes. The conch fritters are a great choice. While crispy on the outside, they have a chewy texture and mild flavor without being fishy in the center. They also come with a very tasty dip. Jerk chicken, pork, and ribs - smoked and seasoned Jamaican style - are all good starters. The management strongly recommends a Red Stripe with all of the above. Resist the temptation to order the plantains, since they come with almost every meal. You may also want to try the more flavorful chicken recipes.

Although Rhythm offers only a few main dishes, choosing proves very difficult. Curried meats and vegetables, which make up about half of the choices, include curried chicken, conch, shrimp, and goat. The curry is neither too strong nor too hot, and the meats are some of the tenderest around. A common Jamaican meat, the goat is especially tender; try it if you have the chance or the courage. Barbecued meats and a few vegetarian selections round out the list.

Chef's specials are also a daily option. Usually, they include kingfish, flying fish, or some other seafood dish. I tried the special: a kingfish steak broiled with onions, tomatoes, peppers, and a unique blend of spices. Flaky and mild in texture, the steak was an excellent cut. One problem was that the chef neglected to remove the bones and I had to pick them out of every bite. The fish was served with beans, rice, and boiled cabbage. The flavor was amazing and, aside from the bones and the fried plantains, it was an excellent dish.

One common complaint at Rhythm and Spice, though, is price. Entres are about 10 to 14 dollars - about average for a good Boston meal. But the fact that hot pepper sauces and chutneys cost extra is silly. Drinks are also a bit steep at three and four dollars for a normal sized glass. All things considered (including the fact that the portions are only average-sized), Rhythm's prices are too high.

All in all, I recommend Rhythm and Spice for its unique atmosphere and cuisine. If you're willing to sacrifice a couple of extra dollars, it is a really fun meal. It offers perfectly cooked meats, interesting appetizers, and the chance to support a non-technical MIT grad. What more could you ask for?