At Stir It Up, we found Caribbean fare for the vegetarians. The restaurant is located on a section of Atlantic populated by Pakistani curio and clothing shops and we visited on one of the chilly nights in January’s interminable stretch. Stir It Up shone invitingly from the lonely street where I was waiting for my dinner companions. Inside, it was orange and warm and relaxed. Our waitress was friendly and our food imaginative.
We ordered tall, cloudy glasses of ginger beer in which the sharpness of ginger was mellowed by vanilla and cinnamon, producing an almost creamy taste. We wanted appetizers but they were out of the fried plantains so we started with the delicate roti skins instead, soft and elaborately wrapped around what seems like a powdery paste of ground chickpeas and garlic. It was so tasty that we started eating it plain but our waitress told us to wait for our main courses- the skins were just an accompaniment.
Anthony’s entree of (vegetarian) Jerk Chicken– firm soy meat shaped into a surprisingly accurate replica of a chicken breast glazed with jerk sauce– was not only a visually stunning dish but also a fiery, smoky, palette pleaser. Gabe’s Ha Ha Chicken Balls (also veg) were delicious fried soy balls in a tangy tomato based sauce.
The Steak Surprise I ordered certainly had the elements of a good dish- tender cubes of soy (I mean, steak) and loads of fresh vegetables seeped in a rich coconut curry- but it was so sadly mild that it became frustrating. I knew with just an addition of heat the dish would be much more enjoyable and I was correct- I doused my leftovers the next day with Tabasco and the savory Island spices suddenly started popping.
Stir It Up is at 514 Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Roti Skins: $3; Jerk Chicken: $9; Steak Surprise: $8.50; Ha Ha Chicken Balls: $8.50