TRUTH IN ADVERTISING: When a restaurant has a name that essentially means “good food,” I tend to be a little suspicious. Fortunately, in the case of Bajan Delight (585 Vine St., 706-850-9006), it’s pretty accurate. Located next to Flanigan’s Portrait Studio, in the space that was most recently Lighthouse Seafood—fingers crossed that the peripatetic Lighthouse will find another space at some point to peddle its reliably tasty steamed seafood—it splits its menu fairly evenly between American standards like burgers and wings and, what’s more interesting, Caribbean specialties.
Bajan means Barbadian, which in turn means meat plus sauce plus rice and peas—simple, hearty stuff that warms your stomach and will make your mouth happy. Sure, you could get a hamburger, hot wings, fried chicken or fried fish—catfish, tilapia or whiting, plus shrimp, all of which come with fries and coleslaw and are pretty good—a cheesesteak or chicken tenders, but you can get that stuff plenty of places.
What you can’t get everywhere is oxtail, which is available from Kelly’s Jamaican and Rashe’s Cuisine fairly regularly but should be much more widely eaten. When cooked slowly, over a long period of time, it becomes unbelievably tender and gelatin-rich, and when paired with subtly seasoned rice and peas, butterbeans, a brown gravy, plantains sliced lengthwise and cooked simply—not too sweet one time; another time a little too sugary—and steamed broccoli and cabbage, it is a marvelous winter meal.
Beef stew isn’t as good, with a lot less gravy and meat that isn’t nearly as tender, but the curry goat—soft, rich, spicy but not too hot; watch out for the bones—is excellent. There’s chicken, too, should you prefer a whiter meat, and I didn’t have an opportunity to try the pork chops, which are cooked the same way as the oxtail.
Photo Credit: Savannah Cole
The space is clean as a whistle, with a couple of TVs that tend to be tuned to football, some tables and chairs, and a cold case with other stuff to-go, like slices of various cakes, including chocolate, red velvet, strawberry crumble and cheesecake. The owners are as much of a delight as their food and do catering, as well as take-out and eat-in.
Bajan Delight is open 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, closed Sunday and serves no booze.
HAZARDS OF THE JOB: I’ve taught myself to eat most things as part of this gig, but there are exceptions. I keep trying to like menudo, I can’t quite hack natto, and I really, really despise bananas. I know they’re nature’s perfect food. The problem is that they’re gross. And that makes it hard to write about a place like Frutta Bowls (245 Oconee St., in The Mark, 706-514-0060), which incorporates them into almost everything. I gave it a go, but I still don’t like banana.
Frutta Bowls is a franchise out of New Jersey that focuses on heathful, Instagrammable bowls that mostly have a fruit base and a bunch of fruit toppings. They don’t exactly feel like lunch, but maybe they do if you’re on your way to or just returned from the gym. You can get an açaí bowl (purplish-blue palm berries blended with banana and topped with more banana, granola, strawberries, pineapple, Nutella, ribbons of peanut butter, kiwi, blueberries, honey, coconut flakes and/or chia seeds), a pitaya bowl (hot pink dragonfruit blended with banana and/or whey protein and topped with most of the same stuff) or a kale bowl (kale blended with banana, whey protein, almond milk and/or pineapple and, once again, topped with the same kinds of things).
The bowls are undeniably attractive, and although the whole superfood thing is a bit overblown, they feel reasonably good for you, if a little on the sweet side and fairly icy in cool weather. If I had to pick, I’d go with the pitaya, which is less sweet and more tart. They’re also priced between $9–$11, which can feel steep given their size.
A better bet, should you not be into banana or desire some carbs to make your belly feel full, are the fancy toasts, which come in savory varieties as well as sweet ones. You can still get Nutella, banana, honey, peanut butter, strawberry and cacao nibs, but you can also get one called a Bravocado, spread with guacamole and sun-dried tomato pesto, sprinkled with salt and red pepper flakes and with a sliced hard-boiled egg fanned out on top. It might be peak millennial, but it also tastes good.
The space seems oriented to pedestrians and lets you check out board games if you’re planning on hanging out for a while and don’t mind the sound of blenders whirring constantly in the background. Frutta Bowls also does catering, includes hot oatmeal bowls and smoothies on its menu, offers gluten-free options and protein bites, makes coffee, sells teas and kombuchas and has Wi-Fi. It’s open from 9 a.m.–9 p.m. every day.
Like what you just read? Support Flagpole by making a donation today. Every dollar you give helps fund our ongoing mission to provide Athens with quality, independent journalism.