Kitchen at the Village Inn on Mackinac Island, Michigan was
only 20 days old, when I first topped to check the menu by the street in
late May 2019. I was surprised and delighted to find that the Village Inn
had a completely new menu, with both familiar & unfamiliar Jamaican
dishes with a northern Michigan influence.
I was headed elsewhere,
but returned for supper, where I learned that "Kingston Kitchen" was now
part of the name, and that there was a new Chef/Owner, Jamaican born, Shawn
Fearon. Shawn's culinary career began on Mackinac Island twenty years earlier
and two years earlier he opened Kingston Kitchen in Okemos, Michigan. This
new restaurant is his second location and the Okemos location has closed
for a few months to allow him to give full attention to this start up and
presumably start the restaurant with experienced staff.
That first meal was
so good, that I returned for lunch the next day, wanting to try more dishes.
The menu has many offerings which look appealing. Being a spicy food fan,
so far I have stayed toward the spicy portion of the menu, but I look forward
to trying the full spectrum in time. There are also dishes for those who
prefer milder spices. Chef Shawn knows that many Americans are not used
to the fiery spices used in some Jamaican dishes.
We have dined at Kingston
Kitchen many times now and were pleased with our experience every time.
and Planked Whitefish with Duchess potatoes are available for the less
adventurous eaters. There are also gluten free options and eight vegetarian
entrees, things which can be hard to find in northern Michigan.
The service is attentive
and friendly. The atmosphere seems a little casual for the price point.
I don't think it is too expensive for the quality of food, but I would
like to see more attention given to presentation. There is a different
menu for winter with slightly lower prices.
See the discussion
and photos of the individual dishes below.
Fort Mackinac Post Cemetery
Mackinac Island Carriage Tours
Social distanced main dining area
Spicy Beef Jamaican Patty
Patty is a traditional flaked pastry, filled with your choice of four fillings
(including a vegetarian option). I had the spicy beef version, and the
crisp, buttery pastry was stuffed with seasoned ground beef. It came with
Jamaican slaw and French fries. The slaw was OK, but not really my dish.
The fries were thick cut, slightly crispy on the outside, while tender
Trelawny Trifecta - sampler platter of any 3 appetizers ($28)
Six Cheese Ackee Dip, Coconut Shrimp, Jerk Wings
My favorite dish so
far has been the Jerk Wings served with avocado ranch dressing and Jamaican
slaw. It is available mild or hot and in traditional jerk or guava jerk.
I had the hot traditional jerk, which had a complex flavor and a nice level
of heat. The skin was crisp, the sauce was spicy and the meat was flavorful
and juicy. It really didn't need a dipping sauce, but the avocado ranch
dressing complimented it nicely.
My hands were sticky
from eating this chicken and I really wanted to lick my fingers, but slipped
off to wash my hands before the entree came.
I tried the
Escovitch Fish because it is one of the spiciest dishes on the menu and
a dish I had never had before. The large, seasoned, breaded red snapper
fillet was topped with zesty pickled vegetables. It is probably too hot
for most diners, so order with care. The spice was almost all in the crispy
coating, so it could be avoided if it is a hotter than someone wanted.
The fish comes with rice & beans and fried plantains. The rice &
beans were quite good, but the plantains had less taste than I expected.
This dish left me wanting
to try the Escovitch Whitefish Sandwich with zesty pickled vegetables,
melted Swiss cheese and avocado aioli on Q-Grain bread.
Twisted Smoked Whitefish Spread
Smoked Whitefish Dip is an interesting fusion of smoked Mackinac whitefish
with melted jerky cream cheese. It is richer and a little less fishy than
most smoked whitefish spreads in the region. While I didn't notice much
heat while eating the dip, there was a little warmth in the finish.
Yard Man Ribs - Jerk BBQ Ribs with fries with fries & slaw (1/2
Chef/Owner Shawn Fearon
myself to the Chef at the end of my second meal. Shawn Fearon grew up in
Kingston, Jamaica and first came to the United States as part of a temporary
work program which placed him on Mackinac Island. He returned to the Island
for many years, eventually working as the executive chef of a year around
Mackinac Island restaurant. He likes winter!
Along the way, Chef
Shawn was certified as a sous chef by HEART College of Hospitality Services
in Jamaica. Before opening his first restaurant in Okemos, he also worked
at restaurants in Florida and Jackson, Michigan.
In 2021 we had a chance to dine here again in June when
a staff shortage made service suffer a little, but everyone in the restaurant
worked hard to cover for each other and do as well as they could. I had
the Caribbean Classic (Sautéed chicken, shrimp, onions, tri-color
peppers tossed in a zesty boom boom sauce and served with seasonal vegetables
and red beans & rice) accompanied with ginger beer (soft drink), while
Linda had a Tomahawk Pork Chop (Berkshire heritage breed tomahawk cut pork
chop topped with caramelized walnuts, mango & liquid gold sauce and
served with seasonal vegetables and homemade smashed potatoes).
I loved the flavor of the spicy boom boom sauce and how
it went with both the entree and the red beans and rice. After more than
70 meals over the years on Mackinac Island I think I enjoyed this dish
the most! Linda's pork chop was also great and her leftovers made a nice
breakfast the next morning. Linda had requested that the liquid gold sauce
be left off. While I am sure she enjoyed the dish much more without the
house made mustard based sauce, I suspect that I would have found it to
Tomahawk Pork Chop
Kingston Kitchen at the Village Inn Map - 1384 Hoban Street, Mackinac
Stokes travel reports
Copyright 2019-2023 by Keith
Stokes. These photos may not be reproduced without
written permission. .