Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews & Ratings

This Culinary Collaboration is NOT One to Miss!

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Believe it! I cannot begin to imagine how magical this Sweet and Savoury event should be. My heart started racing instantly when I saw the promotion.

Stush in the Bush and Simo’s Bread and Catering have joined forces for a Bottomless Mimosa Brunch on Sunday, October 8th in Duncans, Trelawny by Silver Sands.

Bookings are under http://www.stushinthebush.com/visit and fabulous vendors such as Reve Jewellery, Story & Myth, Deaf Can Coffee and more will be joining them.

This event is not one to miss!

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Suga’s Flashback to Stush in the Bush’s Moonlight and Simo’s Bread and Catering and Miel-Meel’s Bottomless Mimosa Brunch a.k.a Heaven on Earth

Early Bird Tickets cost $75USD till tomorrow! Get your tickets now!

By: Gabrielle Burgess

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Hajarie, the Teapot Hit the Spot!

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Suga visited Hajarie last Saturday for Lunch at about 3:30pm. Hajarie has been open for about a month now at what I would like to call the Phoenix Avenue Complex of Eateries. Hajarie is not entirely new, but they have expanded their repertoire. They are familiarly known as The Teapot that used to be located in Sovereign Centre. A Suga Bear used to go there frequently for their refreshing Teas.

Persons have the option of comfortable indoor or outdoor dining with a scenic garden view.

I was pleasantly surprised by the detailed, exquisite décor upon entering. Volcanic rock wall tiles and light fixtures made of full bamboo. Impressive.

We were seated instantly by our pleasant, professional waitress. I observed two groups of content and comfortable diners that included a Birthday celebration. A new place pleasing big groups was a good sign already.

I appreciated the well-tailored Menu. It offered suitable variety without overwhelming options.

My husband, Randy and I started off with the Soup of the Day ($400JMD) that was a Pepper Pot Soup. It was rich in taste with the expected level of spicy.

Our dishes came out like clockwork with a little time to talk in between. Just how I like it. We had the appetizing Smoked Herring Salsa ($650JMD) that complemented our preferred side of Eggplant Chips well. The Olive wood and mother of pearl plates were a fine touch.

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Smoked Herring tossed with a fresh combination of tomato, cucumber, scotch bonnet pepper served with biscuits or preferred side option ($650)

Randy had a delish, flavourful sautée of wild mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and basil pesto tossed with freshly tien lettuce and julienne tomatoes. It was to all be served on a grilled flatbread but for some reason it was on a tortilla. He didn’t mind, however his only fault was that the olive oil was a bit overpowering in the pesto and I agreed. We informed the waitress.

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Sautéed Mushroom ($1200JMD) with added Shrimp ($600JMD)

My Avocado and Chickpea Wrap with added Chicken was perfection even though they didn’t have whole wheat tortillas. The Wrap was a sweet combination of grilled plantains, balsamic marinated cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado and chickpea.

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Avocado Chickpea – wrapped ($900JMD) with added Chicken ($400JMD).

Paninis are their other choice for Casual dining, while Pastas, Salads, Kebabs and Seafood dishes serve as their Entrée options.

Hajarie serves Wine by the Bottle only.  We opted to have their refreshing White Berry and Lemon Mint Iced Teas ($400JMD each). Ginger Honey was the other option.

We didn’t have Dessert, but their Brazilian Banana Cake is highly recommended by local Chef Anthony Fleming and I need to be there the next time they bake the Apple Cinnamon Torte!

So one can eat healthy, unhealthy or a little bit of both at Hajarie.

Hajarie – The Teapot has truly evolved. Spectacular décor with an ambience to unwind, Good service, Delicious food and Refreshing teas, Decadent desserts and Reasonable prices, all in one month. Bravo and Keep it up! Hajarie may be a hidden gem, but not for long. #SugaEndorsed

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Suga at Hajarie (The Teapot Ja) last Saturday, December 9, 2017.

Hajarie (The Teapot JA) – Tearoom • Winebar • Bistro

Location: 9-11 Phoenix Avenue. Kingston 10

Ph: 876-634-9937

Instagram: hajarie_theteapot

By: Gabrielle Burgess

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Suga’s 411 on Vietnam 4U!

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Suga waited a month to visit Jamaica’s 1st and only Vietnamese Restaurant located in Manor Centre.

Coincidentally, I went two Saturdays ago, which happened to be the Saturday following its marketing publication on Thursday, August 24 in one of our local papers, The Jamaica Observer.

It was a bad day. Positives? All their dishes such as Spring Rolls, Rice, Vegetable, Beef and Chicken dishes, Soups, Salads, Sandwiches and Dessert cost less than $800JMD. So, I was only impressed with their reasonable prices and modern decor. Apparently I wasn’t the only one. I was approached by two young ladies after I left, who asked my opinion of the experience and expressed their dissatisfaction.

I found the contrast of views to be interesting between them as foodies, and a member of the Chaine des Rôtisseurs (International Association of Gastronomy, IAG) who also dined there that day. The ladies believed that, since they are just opening everything should be on point, versus the IAG member who was quick to opine that you cannot judge an establishment within their first month of opening.

I agree with both views, but not entirely. I know of Restaurants that have gotten it right within the 1st month of opening. Nirvanna Indian Fusion Cuisine, Great Escape – Runaway Bay, Jamaica Liquor Warehouse Deli, Cellar 8 and Hard Rock Cafe – Montego Bay are some of those Restaurants, just to name a few.

Since it can be done, what excuses do the Restaurants that don’t get it right have? When is it suitable not to judge and to tolerate teething pains?

It is suitable to tolerate teething pains when the owners are willing to seek general feedback via all mediums whether face to face, over the telephone or via direct messaging. Also, when the owners are willing to have respectful, balanced discussions with dissatisfied diners and are inclined to accept honest, negative feedback and suggestions so that they can prepare themselves with solutions to turn things around as quickly as possible.

Vi Nguyen, one of the founders for 4U Vietnam Restaurant spoke with Suga, and is excited about bringing something new to the Jamaican market and would like to guide her staff to do their best to improve the Restaurant everyday.

Obstacles and Outlooks

● Lack of Owners’/Managerial Presence

It is critical for an owner to oversee their Restaurant for at least the first 3 months after opening, put in the marketing and stress test the Restaurant. Nguyen, who does not live here and has a different career overseas, got a taste of Jamaican reality. It was a reality check in terms of how long things can take to get going in Jamaica because of various regulations and just how slow the overall process is to open an establishment compared to the USA and Vietnam. It definitely surpassed her time here of 4 months, so she had to leave shortly after the opening to return to work.

There was also unexpected difficulty in getting visas for overseas staff members, which include another Chef and Manager.

She will return to Jamaica in about a week and four other members of staff from overseas, with experience in Vietnamese cuisine should be arriving in November.

Overwhelmed staff members leading to an increased shortage of staff

After my visit, where they were one server short, a new server was trained and employed to replace the previous server.

Shortage of Ingredients, thus lack of authenticity compared to Vietnamese Restaurants overseas, a limited menu and being unable to offer certain options at a late time on a busy day

A huge shipment of ingredients and supplies is on its way. There is a consideration to eventually buy land here and grow various ingredients such as lemon grass as well.

Why is lemon grass short in Jamaica? Despite the global demand for lemon grass essential oil and the relative ease with which the plant grows in Jamaica, it is not produced commercially.(Jamaica Observer, May 20, 2012)

***Note that one of my brothers’ favourite cuisine in the States is Vietnamese, so I had no choice but to experience it several times and I enjoyed it. Clean, healthy and fresh eating with kicks of herbal flavour. I am looking forward to having this plan realised.

Will they take the risk of Participating in Restaurant Week this November?

Yes, but they will only be doing the Lunch Special, which is the most manageable option.

It was a pleasure speaking with Vi Nguyen. It was refreshing to hear how genuinely passionate and eager she is about her plans to improve the Restaurant. I hope they overcome the various setbacks by December and persevere, as I think there is a lot of potential for the Restaurant to improve and possibly grow into a franchise here in Jamaica.

Good luck to Vi Nguyen and the team. Suga will visit again.

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Gluten free Pho with Chicken (Small) – $650JMD

4U Vietnam Restaurant

Location: Khemlani Plaza, Manor Centre. Kgn. 8

Ph: 876-616-8367; 876-305-0943

Opening Hours: Mon-Thurs: 11am-8pm; Fri- Sat: 11am-9pm; Sun: 2pm-9pm

By: Gabrielle Burgess

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The Neatest Beggar’s Purse from Jean-Georges!

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Photo: Dorothy Wang

Dorothy Wang had dinner at Jean-Georges in Beverly Hills two weeks ago and said her Beggar’s Purse was the cutest and fanciest she has ever seen. Suga agrees!

It was filled with Ossetra Caviar and Vodka cream, tied with a chive and topped with a gold leaf.

Jean-Georges Vongerichten is a famed French Chef that is known to craft his dishes with blends of French, American and Asian influences.

His Fine Dining Restaurant, Jean-Georges in Beverly Hills has 3 Michelin stars! Jean-Georges is also in New York, overlooking Central Park.

Jean-Georges Restaurant at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel

Location: 9850 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, Ca. 90210 USA

Ph: 310-860-6566

By: Gabrielle Burgess

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Cheesy, Vegetable Casseroles for the Win from Black Orchid Restaurant!

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Two Saturdays ago, I went to Black Orchid Restaurant, upstairs in Eden Gardens to redeem my Fine Vegetarian Cuisine Special for two.

My husband, Randy and I had the Fine Dining Restaurant to ourselves that night at 8:45pm.

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Décor at The Black Orchid Restaurant

Our host/waiter for the night that emerged from the Tulips Restaurant downstairs was quite hospitable.

He took our order of Moussaka and Vegan Pasta, then realised instantly that they did not have Eggplant for the Special we already paid for.

Moussaka is a layered eggplant or potato-based dish that sometimes includes ground meat. Many versions have a top layer made like a custard. In Greece, the dish is layered and typically served hot. In Turkey, it is served warm or at room temperature after being sautéed and served like a casserole. The Arabs usually eat it cold.

Our host reassured us that they had a competent Chef who had experience working with the Cruiselines and that he would come to speak with us shortly. Chef Xavier got an idea about what we expected, i.e. the layered eggplant casserole and the Vegan Pasta, also with Eggplant and Parmesan. He told us that he knew what he would do for us even though he didn’t have Eggplant or Squash, but other vegetables.

To our surprise, about half an hour later, our host arrived with not two, but three dishes! I got both the Vegan Pasta and the Eggplant Parmesan Casserole. Randy had a Cheesy Eggplant Casserole as well, but his was a combination of other Cheeses since he told the Chef he didn’t mind which Cheese was used. Chef Xavier looked like he also found a small amount of Eggplant stashed away and had just enough to put in the Casseroles, but not the Vegan Pasta.

The Casseroles had a mixture of eggplant, other vegetables and potatoes in a freshly made tomato sauce layered with cheese. While the Vegan Pasta had a mixture of vegetables as well, topped of with grated parmesan cheese. All dishes had distinct flavours that pleased us both.

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R-L (Top row): Piña Colada; Vegetable Pasta; (Bottom row) – Vegetable and Cheese Casseroles

I just planned on having the Vegan Pasta and tasting the Casserole but as I had a little of both, I had a lot of both. Chef Xaver did an exceptional job. Cheat Day times two!

I really appreciated them extending such a courtesy when they saw we were not going to get what we expected. They actually exceeded our expectations.

Our Blended Drinks were delish as well!

I can’t speak to other items on their menu, but if you are ever feeling for Cheesy Casserole Dishes, go to Black Orchid and pray that Chef Xavier didn’t sail away in a Cruiseline Kitchen.

Black Orchid Restaurant

Location: Eden Gardens Wellness Resort & Spa @ 39 Lady Musgrave Road, Kingston

Ph: 876-946-9977

By: Gabrielle Burgess

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Lunch from Veggie Campus Jamaica

Veggie Campus has been a favourite of a Suga Bear for a while now and I finally decided to try them. Veggie Campus prepares and delivers Caribbean, Vegan food at an affordable cost in Kingston. Gluten Free and Soy Free options are available too.

Last Wednesday, I ordered the Ackee Wrap, Steamed Callaloo and Ripe Plantains for $500JMD for Lunch.

Making my order via whatsapp was quick and effective. However, I asked for 12pm delivery and they were half an hour late. I had called at 12:15pm and was told they were 5 minutes away. 5 minutes turned into 15 minutes, but I am happy they at least answered the phone unlike other places that you would not get at that time.

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Veggie Campus Ja’s Ackee Wrap, Steamed Callaloo and Plantain – $500JMD

The food was a bit on the plain side, lacking spice, but they definitely facilitated clean eating and the food was not oily. I still felt a little peckish afterwards, but I know for more fibre I should have ordered the Curried Chick Pea Wrap with Steamed Callaloo and Ripe Plantain for $650JMD. I did not feel for Curry that day though.

Entree options that may offer more satisfaction are their Curried Veggie Chunks ($500JMD) that includes side options such as sweet potato mash, steamed callaloo or basmati pumpkin rice and their Fettuccine Alfredo with summer squash.

Natural Juices with no sugar added such as Carrot and Pineapple cost $200JMD.

I will probably try Veggie Campus another day to try one of their Entree options, but when I have a later lunch time to order ahead of time of course.

Veggie Campus Jamaica
Call, Txt, Whatsapp: 876-321-5298
Delivery: Mon-Fri from 12pm-5pm for $200JMD
Email: veggiecampusja@gmail.com
Instagram/Facebook: Veggie Campus Ja

By: Gabrielle Burgess

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