What started as a simple take-out review of Natty’s Jerk quickly turned into a mild addiction, with a number of delicious dishes ordered as a weekly treat.
So imagine the excitement when news broke that Natty’s Jerk would finally have its own premises after customers in Portsmouth got involved and raised over £22,000 via a crowdfunder.
As reported, the highly anticipated opening of the new venue in the city center was nearly thwarted after ruthless thieves broke in just hours before the launch in February, stealing a generator, a sound system and several tools.
The popular Southsea chef who runs Natty’s Jerk left ‘broken’ after a restaurant break-in…
Despite this, Natty’s team – who I believe is family based – have come through and opened their shack on Commercial Road – opposite Portsmouth and Southsea station.
It’s important to note that Natty’s Jerk Cabin is literally a cabin – the kitchen operates out of a cabin while the guest seating area uses wooden fencing and a pergola for a roof.
So if you’re planning a visit this spring, it’s well worth warming up – although strategically placed outdoor heaters will definitely make a difference.
Dish Detective and their companions venture to Natty’s on a cold, dark Saturday night. The trip was preceded by a lot of hype from yours truly, so everyone has high hopes.
It is clear from their first bites that these hopes are not disappointed.
The shack menu is slightly different from what was previously available for takeout – in that meat and meat alternatives are offered as part of a meal with rice or fries rather than on their own or in burgers.
And some of the sides like the glorious macaroni and cheese and the cauliflower wings are gone, but maybe those will show up in the future.
This is not a problem because everyone can find something they like.
Since the hut looks even more like a food stand than a sit-down restaurant, we order from the bar one by one.
We are served by the eponymous Natty who is ever so friendly and happily recommends which Jamaican soft drinks are worth trying – I’m sold on a green bottle of Ting (£2.50), a sparkling grapefruit drink and it is divine.
Natty’s charm is felt throughout the experience. As you enter the shack, the workers give you a sincere welcome and a playlist of Bob Marley’s greatest hits helps set the mood.
In the summer, I can imagine that a visit to Natty’s makes you feel like you’re on vacation.
But to the main purpose of the visit – food.
It arrives quickly and in sturdy take-out containers rather than plates.
With one of my companions I chose to share two dishes.
First up is Natty’s Vegan Box Meal (£12.50), which features jerk jackfruit, rice and peas, Natty’s tamarind coated plantain, pickled rose apple and mango coleslaw and abajan-inspired cucumber salad.
The jackfruit may run the risk of being a bit simple but of course that is not the case here. The jerk is perfectly sweet and spicy, without overpowering the meal. And the accompanying articles complete it.
Favorite dish this time around is Natty’s vegan fries loaded with Italian curry on top (£10).
It’s hard to describe the lentil curry other than to say it’s delicious, but it has a strong coconut flavor and leaves us wanting more.
A mate of mine opts for Natty’s pon fries with boneless jerk chicken (£9.50). Having never tasted Jamaican food before, he is impressed and leaves no remains behind.
Once again Natty knocks it out of the park for this Dish Detective, who can only recommend you try this place enough.