Caribbean Fusion

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2515 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale

Don't be scared off by the term "fusion." This friendly, well-appointed restaurant in South Scottsdale is more homey than trendy, combining authentic Jamaican dishes with American standards to keep the neighborhood happy. Although the steaks and barbecued ribs may be stellar, it's chef-owner Damian Muir's Jamaican specialties that make this restaurant such a gem. Humble ackee and saltfish goes haute when Muir wraps it in phyllo and ladles a sweet, spicy tomato sauce over the top. Escovitch -- fried fish, topped with a flutter of pickled vegetables -- is another classic dish turned appetizer here. Don't miss it. As for entrees, there's subtly spicy curried goat, braised oxtails, jerked pork (more sweet than hot) and out-of-this-world steamed crawfish, bathed in a heady mix of herbs, spices and coconut milk. Two Wednesday nights a month, Muir offers a $15 buffet that represents one of the best bargains in town: fruit, salad, red peas soup, chicken fricassee and a buttery seafood ragout made with shrimp, oysters and mushrooms. And any day now, he'll be turning out classic Jamaican desserts (perhaps plantain tarts and blue drawers) rather than the nicely executed but dull cheesecake and tuxedo cake he offers now. Lunch and dinner daily. $$