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★★✩✩✩

Some ’Ting Nice Caribbean Restaurant

561 McGrath Highway, Somerville

Monday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Friday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Sunday: Closed

Caribbean food, with its warmth and traditional spices, seems like the perfect way to escape this never-ending Boston winter, at least for an hour or two. Some ‘Ting Nice, located in a run-down building right on McGrath Highway in Somerville, attempts to provide some respite, but fails to fully deliver on that promise. While their menu has a wide variety of Caribbean options, the dishes themselves were uneven and left me wishing this restaurant could live up to its potential.

Walking in, I was pleasantly surprised by how large and welcoming the restaurant was. Going on a weeknight meant that it was also very empty, and the staff actually seemed a bit surprised to see any customers. All in all, the atmosphere was very quiet, though I thoroughly enjoyed the Bob Marley and hip-hop mixtape that they were playing in the background. This may change during busier times, but certainly this is not the destination if you are looking for excitement on a Wednesday evening.

My waiter was extremely friendly and attentive, and she even provided complimentary soup. But she struggled with some basic menu questions. There were also a couple of menu items that were unavailable, though I was not informed of this until after ordering them and eagerly waiting for my food. Certainly if the full menu had been available, this review would have featured a lot more oxtail.

The free soup was an excellent start to the meal, as it was full of seasonings, veggies, and dumplings. After thoroughly enjoying that bit of hospitality, I started my tour of their menu with a fried dough appetizer, pholourie (the “p” and the “h” are both pronounced). These little balls of pea-based dough contained almost no flavor to offset their gummy texture. The zesty tamarind sauce that was served as a side was tasty, but it was simply not enough to offset the bland dough. Sadly, this would not be the last time I would encounter a bland dish during the night.

I decided to be adventurous when choosing a main dish and went with the curried goat, which turned out to be the best decision of the night. All too often, goat can come out very tough and nearly inedible. The chef here, however, managed to keep the goat tender using a delicious curry sauce that was full of spice without being overpowering. This sauce also complemented the bammy, one of the side dishes offered with the entrees. This flatbread made from cassava had a solid structure without being too dry. It was the perfect vehicle to mop up every last bit of the curry sauce that I could manage.

After the goat, I decided to go the more traditional route and ordered the jerk chicken. While I made sure my water glass was full in anticipation of the spicy chicken dish, what arrived at the table was chicken covered in an unexpectedly sweet sauce. Their version of this classic Jamaican dish was more reminiscent of teriyaki than the spicy rubbed chicken I had seen before. Ultimately, this sweetness did not complement the other Caribbean spices on my plate and made for a fairly disappointing serving of chicken.

Along with each main dish came two sides of my choosing; the only problem is that not all side dishes were created equal. As a charter member of the Eggplant Fan Club, I had to try the melongene chaka, which was billed as roasted eggplant. Unfortunately, I was served something with the texture of baby food and a flavor to match. This dish could have been a nice companion to a meat dish if it had a bit more kick to help bring out the normally fulfilling taste of the eggplant, but it fell far short of that goal. The macaroni pie, on the other hand, was a substantial cube of good quality mac and cheese, with an appropriate ratio of cheese and pasta that didn’t feel too heavy. Topping it off was a crunchy crust from the baking process, which enhanced the classic dish with an additional texture. To finish the experience, the very limited dessert menu probably won’t satisfy diners with a nagging sweet tooth.

It is possible to have an excellent meal atSome Ting Nice, by picking exactly the right dishes and hoping they’re actually available that night. However, with all of the misses on the menu, even among traditionally safe choices, eating here is a bit of a gamble. If you happen to be in the area and are looking to fill yourself up at a welcoming restaurant without breaking the bank (the main dishes average to $12), then you may want to make a quick stop here. Otherwise, I would not recommend making the effort to visit Some Ting Nice just for the culinary experience.