Sylvia Nicholas’ New Clean Plates at Sputnik’s Serves Traditional Island Fare

Nichols stays whipping up some of her tasty eats, above, which were enjoyed by Jason Todd, below.

Hungry for some distinctly island spiced eats?

Then head right over to Clean Plates at Sputnik’s in Coral Bay where Sylvia Nicholas is cooking up all sorts of delicious fare from her native Jamaica.

It might be her imported spices sent from relatives back home or her precise cooking methods, but one taste of Nicholas’ curry chicken will make anyyone a believer in the beauty of Jamaican cookery.

All of Nicholas’ dishes are made from scratch and she’s happy to prepare party trays and more by request. Her menu varies from day to day, but diners can always be sure of the freshest ingredients and truly island flavor.

Start out with a local drink like home-made limeade, cucumber, soursop or the eggnog like breadfruit juice for $3 each. Breakfast is served from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. daily and offers a la carte options like eggs and bacon, ordered individually as well as a selection of breakfast sandwiches, pancakes and omelettes.

The breakfast menu runs for about $3 to $6 for most items.

From 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. it’s lunch/dinner time at Clean Plates with a menu ranging from curry tofu chunks to stewed goat served up with all the trimmings like, callalo and okra, seasoned rice, peas and rice and fungi. Other options include conchs, whelks and fish served either roasted, jerk-style, stewed or curried.

Nicholas has been getting raves about her real Jamaican curries and fresh creole sauces. Be sure to try the national dish of Jamaica — saltfish and ackee, a common egg-like fruit abundant in Jamaica. There are also several fresh salads and special soups daily.

With prices ranging from $10 to $17, the price is certainly right to try more than one of Nicholas’ island treats.

For those looking to splurge a bit, don’t miss out on the fresh Caribbean lobster served up in butter sauce with traditional sides for $30.

Anyone with a big appetite should look no further than the Big J sandwich, named after Jason Todd.
Almost a Jamaican take on the traditional Philly Cheese Steak, the Big J is just that, a huge sandwich loaded with thinly sliced sauteed steak, peppers, onions, garlic and secret spices and topped with an abundance of provolone cheese. It’s sure to fill even the hungriest diners.

Todd, a big fan of his signature sandwich, is also a devotee of Nicholas’ curry and jerk dishes.

“Sylvia’s jerk is the best you will ever eat,” said Todd. “Don’t be scared of the heat. There is a little heat, which she can turn up if requested, but the flavors really come through; it’s amazing.”

What sets Nicholas’ food apart from any other eatery on St. John is simple, the chef explained.

“Come to Clean Plates to get the greatest Caribbean food on St. John,” said Nicholas. “Everything here is home-made and you have to try my ackee and salt fish, that is our national dish. My food is different because I use natural herbs and I do everything from scratch.”

Nicholas is available for catering and private parties and can even whip up a gallon of her fresh juice for diners to take home.

While Nicholas is running Clean Plates at Sputnik and has taken over the kitchen, owner Julietta Mason still reigns behind the bar.

“I haven’t gone anywhere,” Mason said.

The Clean Plates menu changes regularly, so call 775-7373 or 513-8787 for the daily offerings. Clean Plates is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with breakfast from 8 to 11 a.m.