It may be easier to find it by scent than sight. Go south on Cooper Street and right before you get to Mansfield, you’ll start to smell chicken and burgers smoking on a charcoal grill. Look to the west, into the parking lot of an innocuous strip mall, and you’ll see Edwin Liddie working said grill, puffs of smoke billowing around him. And that’s how you find Stay C’s Kitchen.
Opened a little over a month ago, Stay C’s is a small restaurant that serves Caribbean-inspired food — curried goat, jerk chicken, Jamaican patties, oxtails — and a handful of American dishes, like fried chicken, burgers and beef ribs. The restaurant is named after Edwin’s wife, Stacy, who was born in Jamaica and cooks the majority of the Jamaican dishes; he handles the American food and the grill.
Their restaurant is small but with high ceilings, floor to ceiling windows and a patio, it feels spacious. Colors of the Jamaican flag adorn the walls, giving the room a festive, upbeat feel. Employees are friendly and patient as you make your way through the service line, pointing and picking what you want from chafing dishes.
Timing is everything here, as dishes change daily and sometimes run out early. If there’s a particular thing you want, best to call the restaurant or check their website, updated daily with the day’s selections.
A constant is the jerk chicken ($7.50-$11.95), marinated in house-made jerk seasoning for 24 hours, then grilled, over a mix of hickory and pimento wood, until the skin is blackened with char. Our portion came in chunks, skin on and bone in. The marinade of allspice and habanero gave it a sweet bite, while time on the grill meant a nice blast of smoke. For grilled chicken, it was surprisingly moist.
Curried goat ($10.95-$12.95) is also usually available; of the dishes we sampled, it was our favorite. Like the chicken, bones stayed in but the meat fell away easily, its tender texture resembling that of a pot roast. Its flavor was more curry than gamey — more tang and spice, less of the pungency that sometimes comes with the territory.
Served only on Saturdays, ribs ($13.95) were not the typical barbecue beef ribs with clinging fat and glistening crust. These were lean, etched with only small traces of fat. Most of the flavor came from the robust rub, and, touched by a splash of whiskey, it’s not for the meek. Even braver souls should ask for a side of house-made barbecue sauce, so hot that just a dab will leave you breathless.
Entrees come with a choice of sides. On our visit, two were available: a rather dull red beans and rice but good steamed cabbage, tricked out with peas and carrots.
Do not expect fancy presentations. Our food came in aluminum foil to-go containers. But portions were huge. Most entrees are big enough for two.
During our visit, bread pudding and fruitcake had already vanished. Edwin promises a new housemade dessert is on the way — coconut-covered brownies stuffed with cherries. Ay-mon to that.