I have fond memories Chicago's former Calypso Cafe in Harper Court and I’ve been waiting for a solid Jamaican dining option in Chicago for years. The wait is over as the troika of Chef Chris Douglas, Terry Meghie and his wife Carrie have brought their cuisine to the Loop with Mr. Brown's Lounge, gently tucked within the Hard Rock Hotel.
As you walk in, you’ll see some truly Jamaican design touches, including Rasta hat art pieces, accompanied by the aural stylings of Burning Spear and other reggae notables. It’s worth nothing that if you come on the weekend in the twilight hours, you might get a chance to dance along to one of their in-house bands. It’s a really a two-for-one type of experience, so check their site before heading on out.
After sitting down, make sure and give proper attention to their drink menu. Of course, you’ll find Red Stripe and other hop-forward favorites, but why not check out one of their cocktails. My nod goes to “The Terry M.” which features Armagnac VS and Grand Marnier, and its vibe is mellow and not too sweet.
For neophytes, it’s important to remember that the term “jerk” refers to a Jamaican cooking style which finds the meat in question (goat, chicken, what have you) being dry-rubbed or wet marinated overnight with a tantalizingly hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk, then slow cooked on a charcoal grill.
Alright, now that you’ve got that down, go ahead and order up some Jamaican jerk wings and the island style mac and cheese to get started. From there, you can consult the rest of the menu. I gave top honors to the Caribbean flank steak and the Jamaican fried snapper.
After your meal and perhaps another drink, why not finish with something sweet? The house made rum raisin ice cream is exquisite and the banana pudding is served in a Mason glass jar, which makes it perfect for sharing. It’s the perfect way to end an evening at this fine establishment. And trust me: you’ll be back.
Mr. Brown's Lounge
81 E. Wacker Place