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Bites Nearby: The Banana Tree

Each week Patch picks a local restaurant worth checking out, and this week's choice is American-Jamaican restaurant The Banana Tree.

I love the hidden gem restaurants tucked throughout unincorporated Stone Mountain. is one of them.

This restaurant has been around for several years, but this was my first trip there (I've lived in Stone Mountain since 1998). I've had a taste for Caribbean food since a recent visit to , but Snellville Patch editor .

So, The Banana Tree it was.

You can smell the food grilling as you approach the restaurant. It beckons you in.

The restaurant was busy but not crowded during this particular lunchtime visit. There was some enticing fare on the menu, such as curry goat, Ackee and saltfish, and the like. But to start, I ordered the "mannish water." I'd never heard of this dish with the unusual name. When I asked the waitress what it tasted like, she smiled and said I'd just have to try it.

Mannish water reminded me of a beef stew, but with more of a kick -- and much more interesting, overall. It had chunks of potato, dumpling, and tender carrots. What I thought was beef was actually goat. That may be a first for me.

For the entree, I ordered the grilled jerk chicken, with the jerk gravy on the side. I got it with white rice, plaintains and a tasty cabbage and carrot side dish that looked almost slaw-like, minus the creaminess. It was a very nice compliment to the delicious, smoky chicken, the jerk seasoning and the sweet plantains.

The decor at The Banana Tree is simple with a definite homage to Jamaica. On one wall is an Air Jamaica poster; on another, a portrait of reggae legend Bob Marley; and on another, a large -scale island scene.

It's easy to pass by The Banana Tree as you're traveling down busy Redan Road, but take note of the address and stop in when you get the chance, or when you get a hankering for Jamaican fare.

The Banana Tree is located at 4885 Redan Rd. It is near Hairston Crossing Library, and . Prices range from about $3 to $15 (higher for special orders). It scored a 91 on its last health inspection. Phone number is 404-296-1475.

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