Want to try Caribbean food in Columbus? This restaurant is the ‘perfect starter place’

Plan-TAYNE or plan-TIN? How do you say plantain — the starchier, less-sugary member of the banana family? There’s a debate. But I try not to get too caught up in it.

It isn’t what comes out of your mouth that counts but the food that goes in, and I want that starchy, fried fruit in my belly. I love plantains, and Rose’s Caribbean Restaurant has some that are particularly sweet.

In a shopping center not far from Fort Benning, soldiers and 9-to-5 office workers fill tables inside the small restaurant. You approach the cafeteria-style counter and place your order. I’d recommend an entree and three sides. If you aren’t taking it to go, sit at your table and wait patiently.

The oxtail, jerk-fried rice, cabbage and plantains were my choices. My plate came to the table piled full. It couldn’t have fit much else.

For those who haven’t had oxtail, it might be helpful to think of them like beef tips. But the tail pieces are more tender, fatty and, well, with bones attached. The oxtails’ gelatin and fat give it a particularly rich flavor and soft texture. It really is a treat.

The jerk fried rice starts with a sweet taste with hints of soy sauce before building into a sinus-clearing level of spice. It’s not overwhelming or too much to handle. But it will work wonders for your allergies. I tried to get through the meal without a drink, but after several bites of rice, I reached for a glass bottle of pineapple soda.

The cabbage was crisp, crunchy and fresh. And of course, the plantains were well-fried, soft and sweet. It was like getting a dessert without actually ordering one. If there was an option to order a full plate of them, you could bet that I would. I nearly cleaned my plate.

Rose Collins2.jpg
Rose Collins, owner of Rose’s Caribbean Restaurant at 2039 Torch Hill Rd #200, Columbus, Georgia, gets a hug from a lunch customer Thursday morning, August 8, 2019 Mike Haskey

I came back to work and had a little trouble being motivated to write. I really just wanted to take a nice nap.

Ledger-Enquirer video extraordinaire Mike Haskey ordered the curry chicken which was tender and well-spiced. I normally don’t like curried foods. The spice palate just doesn’t mesh well with my tastes. But I’d consider ordering this: he cleaned his plate.

I spent almost $24 on my meal. Oxtail isn’t cheap, and this was a little more expensive than I’m used to for lunch. But sometimes you just have to have oxtail. I’ll have to come back to sample a few other dishes like the jerk chicken.

Don’t let the unassuming strip-mall frontage fool you. The cozy restaurant is the perfect starter place for someone who has never had Caribbean food. And if you love the food type, this is one place you should certainly stop. It’s worthy of another visit — or three.

As for where they fall on the Plan-TAYNE or Plan-TIN debate, Joseph Collins and Dacia Collins, both working behind the counter, say Plan-TIN.

However they choose to pronounce it, they sure can cook them well.

If you go:

Rose’s Caribbean Restaurant

2039 Torch Hill Rd #200, Columbus, GA 31903

11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Saturday


Nick Wooten is the Southern Trends and Culture reporter for McClatchy’s South region. He is based in Columbus, Georgia at the Ledger-Enquirer but his work also appears in The (Macon) Telegraph and The Sun Herald in Biloxi.Before joining McClatchy, he worked for The (Shreveport La.) Times covering city government and investigations. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.