Looking for something a little different from the usual, Lady A and I headed into Mango's Caribbean Restuarant for lunch. Tucked away behind David's Bridal on University, their small space is sparsely but colorfully furnished. Handpainted quotes join paintings on the walls and small plants sit on each of the tables. The light, sunny colors were a happy change from the gray drizzly weather outside.
The weather did come with one advantage...the lunch crowd was light and we were easily seated. We spent some time taking in the entrees, sampler plates, wings, dhal puri, and a nice selection of vegan and vegetarian entrees. All entrees come with fried plantains, stir fried vegetables, and your choice of either rice and peas or white rice.
The Lady A selected the braised oxtail entree (a beef cut that is literally the tail of a steer) with rice and peas. At our server's enthusiastic recommendation, I opted for the mango chicken entree with the rice and peas.
Our food came up quickly and we were both stuck by the neat presentation and generous amount of food.
My mango chicken (shown at the top of this post) featured pieces of tender chicken along side small cubes of mango and a few slices of bell pepper served in a sweet sauce. The chicken was flavorful with the drier texture of meat cooked in a sauce but not marinated in advance. I'm usually a big fan of mango but these had an borderline slimy texture and a bizarre, almost fishy aftertaste. The bell pepper, however, was delicious--crunchy, fresh, and sweet. The sauce itself tasted to be a combination of juice and spices with a hint of oil.
The sides were uniformly lovely. The rice was happily light with a sprinkling of "peas" (which I would have called beans, but then I'm still confused by black eyed "peas".) The dish had a faintly spicy flavor, just enough to give it some depth and interest.
The stir fried vegetables turned out to be cabbage and carrots, thinly sliced and cooked in just a whisper of oil (I could see it more than taste it). This allowed the natural sweetness of the veggies to shine through in a way that was near magical.
The fried plantains had my heart from the first bite. Firmer than a banana, the plantains also featured a slightly stronger, similarly sweet flavor. The light frying gave each slice a thin cooked skin, more firm than crispy, which allowed them to be easily sliced and eaten.
Lady A enjoyed her Oxtail, stating that it had a beefy flavor and was not too spicy.
Mango's offers dishes that are big on flavor and light on oil. They tease out the best of each ingredient, letting them be the stars instead of just a vehicle for sauces or condiments. A breath of fresh air for Huntsville's dining scene, I will absolutely be back.
Total for the meal: $10.53 (Includes one mango chicken entree)
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