We continue from Trowel and Trellis.
La Isla Fresca is the first Outdoor Kitchen that you’ll run into on the walk into Mexico or the last one that you’ll see if you started on the Canada side and never look left as you head in that direction.
Everything returns from last year.
Jamaican-braised Beef with Pigeon Pea Rice and Micro Cilantro — $6
This is actually one of the better beef items at the Festival, particularly with such a dearth of steak. The meat was tender and while it’s a bit of a stew situation, the Worcestershire-heavy sauce didn’t overwhelm the allspice, brown sugar, and other spices rubbed into the beef. The hearty rice had a nutty quality on its own and did a nice job of soaking up the rich flavors of the sauce. I’m not sure this is novel enough to command a purchase – we’ve all had beef stew – but it certainly would be satisfying on a cooler evening. Interestingly, exactly two items dropped in price from last year. This is one of them.
Sugar Cane Shrimp Skewer with Steamed Rice and Coconut-Lime Sauce — $7
The shrimp are grilled well and the sauce marries curry powder spice with the citrus of the lime zest and the coolness of the coconut nicely. But while the sugar cane presentation is fun, it’s a hassle to scrape the shrimp off and the sauce tends to spray in all directions. It ends up being a relatively safe item so long as you wear your Dexter-style splatter guard. The rice does a nice job of sopping up any excess sauce that doesn’t end up on your clothes.
Tropical Mousse Cake: Layers of Passion Fruit Cake, Coconut Mousse and a Tropical Fruit Glaze with Fresh Pineapple – $4.25
This was nice and refreshing – vibrant colors and bright flavors with the soft layers of sweet passion fruit cake and cool coconut mousse. The toasted coconut on top and fresh pineapple chunks on the side help elevate things further. I wouldn’t wait in a long line for it specifically, but I’d add it to any other order. Very good, particularly in the heat.
Golden Road Brewing Tart Mango Cart Wheat Ale $4.50
A nice, short name for a pleasant, fruity beer with a real mango presence and a lot more sweet fruit juice than the “tart” in the name would indicate. It’s not world class, but I’d give it a try if you’re into interesting beers.
Tropical Freeze with Cruzan Mango Rum – $9.75
Served with Cruzan Mango Rum for $9.75 or without for $4.25. The drink enjoys a really juicy, sweet flavor up front and then a bit of lemon tartness on the back end that’s really pleasant. The couple pieces of fresh mango are a nice touch. I would pick one up with or without alcohol depending on your predilection. Very good.
Overall, La Isla Fresca offers some familiar flavors executed well. I don’t think the Beef or Shrimp will be among your absolute favorite dishes at the Festival, but both are decent values and your shrimp-skewer-coordination will likely be better than mine. The Cake is also worth adding to an order, perhaps alongside the Tropical Freeze. Even the tropical beer with 17 words in the title is an above average draft option.