Sunshine Cookshop (Claremont, NH)

A byproduct of several of my projects at work is that we regularly have to visit Lakehurst, NJ. Between schedule and flexibility, we almost always end up driving down there and back with an overnight stay (having tried almost every route between here and there, we’ve got it down to a fairly reliable 5 hour trip each way). We usually carpool, rendezvousing at the Ascutney, VT exit off of I-91, and that’s given me more than a few opportunities to check out a few of Claremont, NH’s more obscure eateries on my home. In this case, my last trip had me arriving in Claremont around dinner time, and that was a great excuse to pay a visit to Sunshine Cookshop, a Jamaican place on South Pleasant Street.

Originally, I was a bit concerned about Sunshine Cookshop; it’s located in this little tiny storefront that, over my 18 years of living in the Upper Valley, has hosted more failed restaurants that I can easily count, but Sunshine Cookshop moved in sometime back in 2015, and they’ve had a reliable string of customers ever since. It’s not a large place; it’s probably around 400 square feet or so, with most of the interior taken up by either the ordering counter or the large griddle, but there’s a small counter for 3-4 people to eat inside as well (I actually ate there this time). Menu-wise, it’s a nice selection of Jamaican dishes, included Jerk Chicken (a mandatory dish), Chicken Curry, Goat Curry, and usually a nice selection of other beef, chicken, and goat dishes. Most are served as either a medium or large dish, with a few fried plantain slices over a bed of beans and rice.

This time, I opted for a medium jerk chicken with a Jamaican beef patty on the side. The jerk chicken was the star here: seasoned and marinated and grilled up over the BBQ grill out front, while this didn’t have the level of heat I’m used to with most jerk chicken, it wasn’t lacking in flavor: this was a rich, aromatic, spicy-but-not-overly-hot tender chicken leg quarter served up on rice and beans. Addressing the heat with a few dashes of the habanero hot sauce (they’ve got a good selection of hot sauces at the counter), this was a tender and flavorful lunch, and the “medium” size being a perfect size for a lighter dinner.

The Jamaican beef patty was pleasant as well, although the general shape of it makes me suspect these are commercially purchased and not handmade. But the “patty” was an enjoyable, empanada like dumpling filled with a rich beef curry with a lot of onion, pepper, and habanero, each bit giving a bit of flaky crust and a lot of spicy beef filling.

I’m rather happy that Sunshine Cookshop is around; every time I stop there the food is pleasant and spicy, the owner friendly, and the prices reasonable. I’m glad the location seems to have finally shaken its curse.

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