Jerk chicken tacos with house jerk sauce, coleslaw and pineapple salsa from Yardie Ting in Portland. Photo by Ray Routhier

My daughter Dinah has a knack for picking out successful mixtures of contrasting cuisines when ordering from a restaurant.

A couple years ago at a place in Montreal specializing in poutine – french fries with cheese curds and gravy – she picked a Tex-Mex-inspired version that mixed guacamole and salsa with the baseline ingredients. It was the best of the all the poutine dishes at our table, by far.

She did it again recently when my family ordered takeout from Yardie Ting, a Jamaican restaurant located upstairs at the Public Market House in downtown Portland. My family and I have very little experience with Jamaican cooking, except for a jerk chicken recipe we found in a children’s cookbook years ago. So while the rest of us looked for dishes we recognized as Jamaican – jerk chicken, jerk pork, chicken curry patties – Dinah opted for the jerk chicken tacos.

Jerk pork with rice and beans and plantains from Yardie Ting in Portland. Photo by Ray Routhier

She got three large, soft tortillas filled with jerk chicken, house-made jerk sauce, a very creamy and tangy coleslaw and pineapple salsa, for $12. It was spicy enough from the jerk sauce, but really cool and refreshing from the creamy slaw. We all liked our dishes, but agreed Dinah’s was the best. She won again.

The plantains, which my daughter Sophie got as a side to her jerk pork plate, were also a family favorite. They were tender and mild, a very good compliment to the jerk sauce on the meats or the curry in the patties. The jerk pork plate was $13.50 and included big chunks of nicely spiced pork and two side dishes. In addition to the plantains, Sophie chose the beans and rice. For $15.50, the meal comes with three sides.

Jerk chicken with rice and beans and festivals – Jamaican fried bread – from Yardie Ting in Portland. Photo by Ray Routhier

I got the jerk chicken meal with two sides for $11.50. One of my sides was festivals, a kind of Jamaican fried bread that was sort of like a donut, just a little sweet. It was a nice accompaniment to the spice on the chicken, which was very tender. I also had the beans and rice. I also ordered a separate container of mango chutney for everyone to share, for $2.50. It went well when spread on the festivals, I thought.

My wife, Jess, had a curry chicken patty, $4, plus some of our side dishes. The filling was a little too spicy for me – which is not necessarily that spicy – but everyone else liked it a lot. We got two patties and Sophie had the other for lunch the next day. There were also beef, cheese and veggie patties.

The menu also contains an oxtail meal, a coconut curry dish and appetizers like onion rings, fries and wings, plus sandwiches. There are also family meal options, ranging from $40 to $55. You choose a protein – chicken, pork or tofu in various flavors and combinations – and also get rice and beans, steamed cabbage and carrots and sweet fried plantains as sides.

I used Yardie Ting’s online ordering system. I’ve become a big fan of online ordering during the pandemic, because it allows you to order and pickup whenever you want. So when I had a few minutes’ break in the early afternoon on a Wednesday, I ordered online and put in a pickup time of 6 p.m.

When I got to Yardie Ting, which has a stall on the second floor of the Public Market House, my order was in a big bag marked “Ray” sitting on a small table by the counter. The Public Market House is open for indoor dining on the second floor, but we took ours home for dinner.


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