Dish of the Week: Cane’s jerk chicken wings

Media Credit: Diego Mendoza | Staff Photographer

Cane's wings are smoked for 12 hours and served with a side of dressing and sliced green onion for garnish.

Instead of daydreaming about sunbathing on a Caribbean beach, experience the best of Trinidad and Tobago and indulge in the islands’ tropical flavors at Cane. 

Located at 403 H St. NE, the modern joint is conveniently situated in the heart of D.C.’s H Street corridor and neighbors popular restaurants, like Thamee and Brine. For now, Cane is only open for takeout and delivery, available through Uber Eats and Grubhub. 

When COVID-19 does go away, you should probably expect long wait times for in-person dining. The inside is cramped and offers just a few seats along a booth that extends across the left wall. Cane does not take reservations, and seats inside the small restaurant are allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

Cane serves lunch Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and dinner on these same days from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., except until 9 a.m. on Saturdays. Both the dinner and lunch menus incorporate many of the same ingredients, but lunch servings are relatively smaller.

I opted to order for dinner but not before I skimmed through the lunch menu for dishes I’ll try when I’m back again. Meat eaters might want to check out the cumin-packed geera pork belly bowl ($15), and vegetarians can enjoy the veggie bowl topped with curried potatoes and a channa, or chickpea, stew ($14). 

Starters on the dinner menu offer some more variety. If you’re craving something bread-like, Cane offers the “Doubles” Indian fried bread topped with spiced chickpeas ($6), as well as a half dozen Trinidadian “hops” buns with homemade butter ($8). The cow heel soup ($7), complete with chilis, cilantro, lime and cucumber, also caught my eye.

There are only three individual entree options available for dinner, but all looked equally delicious. You can choose between an oxtail, brisket and beef tendon stew ($29); grilled ox tail ($22); or a whole deep-fried snapper (price depends on market). 

To be honest, the price to portion ratio appeared a bit steep for a college student, so I opted for two appetizers to save a few bucks. I settled on the 12-hour smoked jerk wings ($12) with a side of the channa fritters ($5). The wings were served with a side of creamy ranch dressing and topped with sliced green onion for garnish. 

I like pretty much all chicken wings, so my bar for quality is pretty low. But Cane’s jerk chicken wings blew my expectations. Having sat in a smoker for half a day, the chicken was delectably tender and literally fell off the bone with every bite. I could taste the deep woody smoke infused into the delicate meat.

The zingy and spicy dry rub gave the meat a bright and addictive heat – similar to curried chicken but more peppery and citrusy. The rub also formed a sticky bark-like crust on the chicken wings that was packed with flavor.

I didn’t order drinks, but Cane serves specialty punches for those who are 21 or older. The chef’s punch combines white rum, bitters and lime juice, while the Christmas punch uses a hibiscus flower base with white rum and other spices (both $9). 

Cane may be a bit too pricey to frequent, but the multicultural fusion of flavors left my taste buds hooked. I hope to order again in the future, hopefully at a time when I can sit down and get the full restaurant experience. 

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