When was the last time you were laying down and randomly said, “I want some barbecue. Not traditional barbecue, but something different.” Well, that was me this past week when I had a taste for something unique. Washington, D.C. isn’t known for Barbecue, hell, I’m not sure what D.C is known for. (Please let it be something other than Mambo Sauce and Half Smokes) Finding something that’s unique and different means a lot to me because it creates an experience that I can speak about without total unbiased.
Spark, which is located off of North Capitol St, and specializes in BBQ mixed with Caribbean Street Food. It’s led by Chef Peter Prime, who has a Caribbean background, and focused on hard work by learning from some of the best including chef Michel Richards. The interior of this restaurant looks like it was an old fire station, but what I wasn’t prepared for was an experience that would set the alarm off on my taste buds.
During my visit I was able to indulge in a few dishes. Avocado Beignets, Jerk Brisket, Fried Chicken Curry, Grilled Oxtails, Collard Greens, Mac and Cheese, and Hen of the Woods were the choices of the evening. I’ll start off with the Avocado Beignets. An interesting taste and texture to say the least, had a soft and smooth texture to go with a crispy exterior. I thought the combination of a fried Avocado would be strange, but it was surprisingly good. It was well seasoned and the Cilantro Sauce that came with it, gave it the extra flavor it needed.
The next dish was the “Meat Platter”. It consisted of Jerk Brisket, Fried Chicken Curry, Guava Rum Grilled Oxtails that came with a Coconut Curry Sauce. This was a Meat Platter that sent my taste buds for a ride I’ll never forget. The Jerk on the Brisket was Spicy but not over powering, and worked well with the meaty flavor of the Brisket. The Fat part on the Brisket is something that I enjoy too. It gives extra flavor to it and helps to provide a bit of salt to the overall meat. The Fried Curry Chicken was a bit different for me. This dish was spicy and had the right amount of flavor to it. It was fermented, flavorful, and juicy. I thought the flavor of the Curry would be lost when it was fried due to the oil, but surprisingly it had an amazing flavor to it. The Guava Rum Oxtails were the last meat. This meat was a bit disappointing. The flavors were good as it gave off a pineapple flavor along with a sticky texture to it, but it was mostly bones and no meat. Oxtails are usually a hit or miss when it comes to meat, but I’m sure if the Oxtail that I had was more meaty, it would’ve been more enjoyable.
The side dishes consisted of Coconut Braised Collard Greens with Pickled Okra, Smoked Cheddar Mac and Cheese, and Hen of The Wood Mushrooms with Jerk Miso Marinade. If I could have these specific dishes at my Thanksgiving table I’m sure my family would rethink the “traditional” Thanksgiving Sides that we have. The Collard Greens were definitely made with a twist. You could taste the Coconut flavor with them and the sourness of the Pickled Okra, too. The Greens were hearty, packed with flavor, and simmered beautifully. The Smoked Cheddar Mac and Cheese was great, too. I have to give warning that the Macaroni and Cheese was used with the same noodles you see in a Campbells Chicken Noodle Soup can, which I absolutely hate, but the flavors were still good. The Burnt topping of the Macaroni and Cheese is what put this dish over the top. I’m a huge fan of a slightly burnt Macaroni and Cheese and with the Smokey Flavor of it, it’s a dish worth ordering. The Hen of the Mushrooms had a smokey flavor to them as well. I love mushrooms and this was a perfect time for me to order them. The Jerk Miso gave it a sweet and spicy taste, but worked well with the earthy texture and flavor of the mushrooms.
Overall, this restaurant is a go-to. There are traditional barbecue places in D.C. but when you get one that’s mixed with a Caribbean background, it’s a must you give it a try.