Staff Photo: Deanna Allen The most popular dishes at Ionies Caribbean Kitchen include the oxtails, front, the curry chicken, middle, and the jerk chicken, back, served alongside steamed vegetables and fried plantains with a bowl of rice and beans, right.
Ionie's Caribbean Kitchen
1142 Athens Highway, Suite 101, Grayson
Open since: March 2008
Curried goat served with a choice of rice and peas or white rice and steamed vegetables and fried plantains, $9.50
Jerk pork served with a choice of rice and peas or white rice and steamed vegetables and fried plantains, market price
Brown stew fish served with a choice of rice and peas or white rice and steamed vegetables and fried plantains, market price
Location: The restaurant is the left corner shop in Cooper Village, a small retail complex along Athens Highway.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturdays
Owner: Jamaica native Vilma Kokaram was working as an accountant in downtown Atlanta when she grew tired of the five-days-a-week commute from Grayson. With her children in college, she decided it was time to pursue her yearning to open her own restaurant.
"I jumped in, both feet, and so far, so good," she said.
The Grayson resident now lives within walking distance of her business.
Atmosphere: The smells of seasonings and simmering meats wafts from the back kitchen out into the small dining area, hitting the sense of smell right at the door. The aromas draw one to the serving line and counter, where daily selections are displayed.
The restaurant has a casual atmosphere with booth and table seating with a few fine dining touches customers are given utensils wrapped in cloth napkins and the colorful garnishes on each dish hint at an upscale influence.
Customers can enjoy the flavors of the Caribbean outdoors on the patio adjacent to the restaurant.
Menu: While Kokaram and her head chef, Wayne Sharpe, both hail from Jamaica, their menu is a fusion of Caribbean cuisine. The most popular dishes are the oxtails and the spicy jerk chicken, both crafted from homemade recipes and served with a choice of rice and peas or white rice and steamed vegetables and fried plantains.
Oxtails and jerk chicken are two of the staples customers will find any time they walk into Ionie's. Along with those staples, the kitchen staff cooks up at least two special dishes daily, from fried tilapia served with a Caribbean sauce to the popular pineapple chicken. Kokaram said she and her staff enjoy experimenting with food. The jerk chicken macaroni and cheese is one product of experimentation. It's a dish Kokaram created herself, one she says customers won't find elsewhere.
While Ionie's doesn't offer a lunch menu, customers can request a smaller portion of any daily dish for $6, with the exception of oxtails and any dishes that include fish or shrimp. Children's portions are $5.
Customers can also order a combination dish, sampling of a few of the meat offerings.
Ionie's offers daily take-out lunch specials for $4.99 from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Beverage offerings include Coca-Cola products, juices and a special homemade punch that is a blend of fresh fruits.
Things you might not know: The restaurant is named for Kokaram's late mother, Ionie.
Beginning May 15, Ionie's will host a reggae-soca band on the patio.