Although St James bills itself as ‘Modern Caribbean’ it is specifically Trini food from the same folks who run Cane on H St., NE. This is a the somewhat upscale cousin, but not all that fancy inside and what is on the plate is mostly true to its roots.
We tried three small plates which provided way more freaking delicious food than we could eat.
They have three dishes that are Sunday Only, and we ordered one: the ‘floats’, a basket of super hot and crispy fry bread (think beignets) that is always made to order served with three dips: smoked herring, pumpkin choka, and pimento cheese. I could do without the pimento cheese, but the other two were awesome. The smoked herring had so much going on: smoky, salty, fishy, and even a natural sweetness in the background: addicitive, as was the bread. The pumpkin choka was thick and nicely balanced with some chives and mild sweetness. We wound up ordered some extra bread just because resistance was futile. And they do that to order as well, so it takes time.
The accras (salt fish fritters) were stuffed with some big chunks of fish, fried golden, and served over a sludge of culantro mixed with scotch bonnet peppers. A complete success and a real thrill.
The jerk wings were served with a nice crunchy bark on the outside and a background of Carib spice and a bit of heat. I probably prefer the chicken at Just Jerk, though they don’t sell wings separately.
We were stuffed and couldn’t move on to the rest of the menu. A couple of the large plates are pricey, but I am sure they’d feed a few folks. I will go back!