Marla’s and Me

I must admit. Something happened that feels as completely incongruous as stumbling on a snowball on a summer’s day. I’m seeing someone. Regularly. Who I met online. A fellow I mentioned a few times, who I’ve called B, has showed me the value of online dating. That’s right. Meeting him online has not only been enjoyable — it’s been rewarding. All of those questions, answers, boxes, pictures, headlines, and quizzes that are usually so tortuous have proven, in this case, to be illuminating, flirtatious, and fun.

Somewhere, a little mud-soaked pig who thought he was forever stuck on terra firma is sprouting a set of wings.

B’s pictures were full of character. We each gave each other 5 stars. He got me to answer more than a couple hundred of those dreadful questions that force you to answer a totally complex question in only one of three possible ways.

His profile charmed me, as well.

“I love substantive and offbeat conversations.”


“I spend a lot of time thinking about… making and keeping a home.”

Sign me up!

“I would like to explore some new culinary horizons.”

Alright, boy, then come with me.

Because explore new culinary horizons we do. One restaurant we ate at recently has proven to be a strong favorite to us both — Marla’s Caribbean Cuisine. This place is only a couple blocks away from me, but still, I always dubiously drove past it on my way to and from the gym. I didn’t think it looked special, so I somewhat smugly never went to Marla’s.

Score: 0 for delicious Caribbean food. 0 for the hungry critic who lives inside my head.

With perfect timing, however, Citypages came out with their “best of” list and declared this: Best Take Out 2010: Marla’s Caribbean Cuisine

And this: Marla’s Doubles: 100 Favorite Dishes

After that, one thing was clear: I might be wrong about Marla’s.

B and I have eaten there a few times since then. While the experience is consistently quirky, the food is always flat-out delicious. As we were happily eating in the spartan dining room, I flashed back to B’s profile.

“You are delighted when you judge a book by its cover — and are proven entirely wrong.”

Oh, sigh. Few things could be more true. I was so wrong that I’m delighted by how wrong I was! From the unique beverages to the killer plantains, Marla’s truly delivers a great meal.

There’s ginger beer.

Or a curious and refreshing sorrel soft drink.

Here’s those doubles Citypages raved about. Curry chana between two fried bara. Get your hopes up — they really are that good — just leave a little room for your hopes to be dashed. The first time I went, they had no doubles. The second time, the server said they still didn’t have any, but the chef shouted out that they did (after I had a minor, although eloquent, thing that could be likened to a tantrum).

The plantains are among the best I’ve ever had.

The roti are almost impossible not to order. Here’s dhalpourie roti with curry chicken. Dhalpourie is a soft flatbread filled with finely ground yellow split peas.

While we nearly inhaled it, it still wasn’t as good as the paratha roti with beef we had another day. Paratha is a soft flaky flatbread made with butter. Next time, I’m getting the flaky paratha with this lovely and fragrant chicken curry.

Here’s a rich, comforting plate of dumplings with beef stew. The menu, which is sparse on details, might lead you to think you’re getting a plate of filled dumplings similar to a dumpling appetizer. Not at all. The dumplings are plain and mounded high, ready to be eaten with bites of the filling stew, grandmother style.

While I don’t have a picture of the Jamaican jerk chicken, B and I agreed that the charred and spicy jerk was the best thing we had. At the same time, we’re also both aware that we haven’t yet eaten at Harry Singh’s, which Citypages declared the best Caribbean in the Twin Cities. Given our love of Marla’s, B and I are both skeptical, yet true to form, ready to be proven entirely wrong.

Marla's Indian & Carribean Cuisine on Urbanspoon

11 thoughts on “Marla’s and Me

  1. stefanie

    OK, now I want to go there. Is this strictly a you and B place, or can I come too? đŸ™‚ Also, it’s charming to see you so charmed by someone. I’m heartened to know that occasionally, all that time spent typing in little white boxes actually does pan out.

  2. angelique

    I just need to go here, period. Those pictures put me over the top. And I like the segue of boy to restaurant.

  3. ann faerber

    Oh I really hate to burst the excitement for you, but Harry is flat out a better cook than his sister, Marla. Yep, that’s right, their siblings (shhh! but don’t tell anyone!) Ha ha. Please go to Harry’s, he’s been around these parts FOREVER in whatever location he can find or afford in town. I am shocked you haven’t taken part in his adventure as a foodie, but i’ll forgive you (still laughing). His browned-down chicken wins my heart for it’s delicate seasonings and heavenly succulence. The Caribbean classic, the rotie, is made to your liking in degrees of spiciness, but always perfectly delicious. Just watch out: he like to serve things hot, the original Trinidad/Tobago method. He also loves to talk about his food and the hot spices. Get him going (without another customer) and he will talk your ear off. I heart all of his surround tackiness that he collected and seemingly brought over when he arrived back in the seventies. The large multi-colored pepper packed glass jars may still have dust from that move. Who knows? I remember the first time visiting him and noticing how he had a simple boom box and a tape with Caribbean music playing. When the tape finished, he was still busy cooking, and upon a polite request he asked one of us to “please turn the tape over and press play, thank you”. Sweet!

  4. Carrie Post author

    Oh, Ann. You are more of an eater than I ever realized! Maybe we should meet at Harry’s one of these days. Yeah?

  5. Carrie Post author

    Stef, Ang – Let’s put in on our list of things to do. Maybe I’ll even put my iPhone down for a change.

  6. Claudia

    The food does look great, but I’m even more interested in B. The descriptions he gives of himself makes him sound absolutely PERFECT for you. And I have a very close friend who met her excellent husband on the internet – they are so happy (8 years) and they are so right for eachother – it’s absurd to disqualify the internet as a place to meet people: it’s a huge place.

    Please be sure to tell us more about you and B in your coming articles, okay?

    Loves Romance, but not Romance Novels,


  7. Carrie Post author

    Claudia – Ain’t it nice how you’ve gotten to know me so well? And all I did was buy your book. I love it. I’ll be sure to take your assignment to heart.

  8. Peter

    Hi Carrie!

    Glad to hear about the guy friend! Just an FYI that you can get a version of doubles (I haven’t tried it) – and some other quite well prepared Caribbean Cuisine – over at Caribe Cafe – just off of 280 and University. By and large somewhat different stuff than Marla and Harry cook-up, but a fun place and worth a visit.

  9. Carrie Post author

    Thanks Peter – Sounds like a trip to try their doubles is in store. The Heavy Table said something akin to what I said about Marla’s doubles. They’re sometimes hard to come by:

  10. Pingback: June 7 Morning Roundup « The Heavy Table – Minneapolis-St. Paul and Upper Midwest Food Magazine and Blog

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