Lively Up Yourself

De Palm Tree adds spice to the St. Louis culinary scene

All entrées come with either herb mashed potatoes or rice and peas. Keep in mind that in Jamaica, "peas" are beans, so what you're actually getting is red beans and rice. Nor are De Palm Tree's mashed potatoes as literal a translation as one might expect. Flavored with herbs I failed to identify, the potatoes had been chopped to a chunky consistency and shaped into a disk. One night they were too dry, but on another visit they were moist and enjoyable.

Distinctive appetizers include empanada-like pastries (not house-made, but tasty) stuffed with your choice of beef, chicken or vegetables; jerk or honeyed chicken wings; shrimp cocktail; and fried plantains. Yet another offering, fried codfish balls, is a variation on the traditional codfish fritters, with mashed potatoes substituted for bread crumbs and egg. Lunch brings a choice of five sandwiches: jerk chicken or pork, tuna salad, a veggie burger and cod (deep fried or grilled). In addition to the appetizers, the lunch menu features smaller editions of a few dinner entrées -- curry chicken, jerk chicken or pork, grilled vegetables -- plus several sandwiches, soups and salads, including a nice-looking tropical mélange of grated coconut, pineapple and tangerine segments. Vegetarians take heart: Several meatless dishes are available at lunch and dinner, among them a Creole-style okra, a black bean stew and baked red peppers stuffed with onions, almonds and bread crumbs.

I'm a fool for mango fool pudding, creamy and custard-like, rich with mango flavor and seasoned with raisins spiked with rum. On the night we tried De Palm Tree's rendition, though, the batch hadn't set properly and looked more like mango fool cream. Still, the sweet cream was delicious, absolutely worth giving Romer another shot at achieving the right consistency. The banana rum fritters, however, were gobbled up as fast as they cooled enough to eat, making for a great pairing with sweet, creamy avocado ice cream. House-made dokono, a common Caribbean dessert of African origin, consists of cornmeal, grated green bananas, coconut milk and raisins, rolled in foil into cigar-shape packets, then boiled. The resulting bread-like dessert is sliced and served with drizzled sweetened condensed milk. Too dry for my party's taste -- but maybe not for yours.

Tammey (center) and Easton Romer (right) bring the 
bright, bold flavors of Jamaica to St. Louis.
Jennifer Silverberg
Tammey (center) and Easton Romer (right) bring the bright, bold flavors of Jamaica to St. Louis.

Location Info


De Palm Tree

8631 Olive Blvd.
University City, MO 63132

Category: Restaurant > Caribbean

Region: University City


Codfish balls $4.95
Escovitch fish $13.45
Ackee and salt fish $8.95
Jerked chicken $12.95
Banana rum fritters $2.95

314-432-5171. Hours: 11 a.m.-12:30 a.m. Mon.-Sat.

8631 Olive Boulevard, University City

Finding a niche amid University City's ethnic-food bonanza is a daunting task for any restaurateur. "A lot of people have the desire to start a business but don't have that spark, that extra drive," observes entrepreneur extraordinaire Joe Edwards, who says he saw precisely that spark in the Romers. "They're really idealistic," adds Edwards, who says he's happy to help aspiring business owners whenever he can. "You can see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices that they're going to put in the work to make a new business successful."

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