On the last Saturday night of April, Bongos Restaurant saved the day for me and my husband’s Anniversary Dinner after a mix up with Reservations at another Restaurant in Negril.
Bongos is located at the modernly refurbished, Sandy Haven Resort on the popular Negril Strip.
We were relieved to still have somewhere elegant to dine. There was a choice between indoor dining and outdoor dining on the terrace. We decided to stay indoors, where the lights were turned down low, but a bit too low. The ambience was not affected too much though. Seating was comfortable and the décor was unique. There was a Bar and Lounge area indoors as well.
The members of staff were courteous and knowledgeable of the items on the menu.
The menu had a wide range of items that represented a fusion of European, Asian, African and of course, Caribbean cuisines. Prices listed in US were subject to 10% tax and 10% gratuity.
Appetizers, Soups and Salads ranged from $7-$10US.
I had the tasty Jerk Shrimp Brochette ($8.50US) and my husband had the Crab and Corn Chowder ($8US), which had a rich flavour. My Brochette could have done without the lettuce on top though.
For Entrées, there were Vegetarian and Vegan options such as Vegetarian Paella, Mixed Bean Stew, Vegetable Linguini and more ranging from $12-$30US.
Other options included Fish any way you like it ranging from $17-$23US depending on size, Curried Coconut Lemon Shrimp ($18US), Asian Stir Fry Beef Sirloin ($17US), Jerk Chicken Pasta ($16.50US), Cuban Pork & Bean ($20USD), Bongo’s Seafood Paella ($19US single/$35US double) and more.
It wasn’t Lobster season but I had a craving for any type of Surf and Turf, which wasn’t on their menu. The waiter and the Chef collaborated to make me happy and offered me the Filet Mignon with large Shrimp Skewers.
My husband ordered the Filet Mignon on its own.
Although the wait was extremely long, we had a year of marriage to reminisce on as well as exciting thoughts for our future and the wait was worthwhile when the food arrived.
Our cuts of Beef came medium rare, as requested. So we were pleased with the tenderness and succulent juices and flavours emerging from the Beef.
We were too full for Dessert but we enjoyed a few drinks from the Bar. I have had better Mojitos but the blended drinks were on point.
I recommend Bongos Restaurant for a decent place to dine in Negril if you are not famished or in a rush. The wait may be long but you have the leisure of having a good chit chat over a few drinks in a lovely ambience until delectable food arrives.
Bongos Restaurant @ Sandy Haven Resort
Location: Norman Manley Boulevard. Negril, Jamaica
Opening Hr: 6pm
By: Gabrielle Burgess
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Goddard Catering Group also known as GCG Events are THE Caterers to watch! Up to last week Thursday, many did not know who or what was Goddard. How did that change? GCG hosted what I considered as a launch titled, ‘Destination: Delicious!’ last Thursday night at the Ruins, Mona that was Simply Outstanding, fully representing their brand.
Fidelity Motors Ltd. is a part of the Goddard Enterprises Group of Companies and GCG often works together with Tai Flora Luxe. So on the outskirts of the event, a car was on display followed by a beautiful table arrangement and lounge area decorated by Tai Flora.
GCG and Tai Flora pair beautifully together, as GCG not only caters for Corporate and Social events but for Weddings as well. They describe themselves as expensive but based on Suga’s experience with them, I absolutely disagree. For the complete package that they offer, for instance if you also require their Bar Services, they provide all the necessary glassware, ice, flatware, cutlery, disposables and service staff for an unbeatable price. Not to mention that they come fully equipped with their cooling trucks, electricity and more. To add icing to the cake, they are partners with Pop Up Gourmet Jamaica, which means that once you have your Pop Up Gourmet Advantage Card you get a 10% discount. Depending on the size of your event, that could turn out to be up to $30,000 to $50,000 or more off of your bill! My Gosh, where have they been all along? They have been around for many years Suga Bears. After successfully catering for the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2007, they saw the need to raise the bar on catering services throughout the region, leading to the birth of GCG Events in 2008, an affiliated company of Goddard Catering Group and a member of the Goddard Enterprises Group of Companies. Some persons who know of them may also familiarise them with the airport or airport/airplane food. But when you taste their food, you would have no idea. They are thus familiar with the importance of punctuality as well.
They do a lot of Overseas Weddings and Funerals. Funerals?! Yes, because when persons land at the airport where their office is located, all they have to do is ask for GCG to take care of everything for them and work with their budget stating how much a head they can afford. The headache they thought they would have is usually gone once it reaches into GCG’s hands as they seem to be an excellent team. It is likely that you would communicate with Jasmin Ramsay or Cheridah Douglas who are the epitome of quick, efficient communication, quality service and the ability to deduce the needs of their customers, often without even having to ask.
To the general public, GCG probably started to visually creep into the Events market since the 1st Epicurean Escape in 2012 held at Grizzly’s Plantation Cove, close to Ocho Rios, Discovery Bay and Runaway Bay. The Festival featured some of Jamaica’s finest including Chef Ravi Anne, Chef Dennis McIntosh, Chef Theo Smith, Chef Christopher Evans, many others and most importantly, GCG’s current head Chef, Daniel Schwietzer. Since then they have been taking their time filtering into the Events market even more.
Executive Chef Daniel Schwietzer is Swiss and discovered his love for cooking from his Uncle who had a restaurant in Geneva, Switzerland. He knew very quickly from then that he wanted to be a Chef. He traveled across Switzerland where he learnt French and Italian cuisines, Los Angeles, California and then finally to Jamaica 25 years ago! He has served in the capacity of Executive Chef at Morgan’s Harbor Hotel, Temple Hall Estate, Plantation Inn and for the past 19 years, Goddard Catering Group Jamaica Ltd.
So what did Chef Schwietzer and the other Chefs as well as Bartenders have to offer at Destination: Delicious held last Thursday? It was quite a spread. Suga arrived at about 7:45pm. The event was slated to be from 6:30pm to 10pm so I arrived when things were about to be in full swing. Invited Guests were greeted with Sangria and I was just in time to hear Chef Schwietzer be introduced and have him take us through all the stations where he was sure to display his passion of fusing Caribbean and European cuisines.
The Cocktail station had Roasted Tuna with balsamic glaze drizzled over micro greens, Bruschetta with jerked cream cheese, escellion and wine, Rice noodles with Salmon, usually paired well with white wine and Ceviche drizzled with lime juice and some country pepper. The Ceviche and Tuna Appetizers impressed Suga.
The Soup station had Red peas, Manish water and Pumpkin soup with Spicy Banana Bread croutons that enhanced the flavour. All were tasty, but the Manish water was the hit for the night.
There was a Salad station to top off wetting the appetite. I loved the general use of fresh micro greens as I am in total support of the local farm to table concept.
Then for the meat lovers, the Beef and Pork station were kicking where the mango salsa complemented the Beef Tenderloin well and the coffee rubbed and chocolate infused methods were a delightful enhancement in flavour.
The Flat Bread station had THE most toppings including pesto, smoked marlin, fresh mozzarella and mushrooms, basil, micro greens, you name it!
There was a live cooking, Pasta station with Seafood pasta and a Dessert station where for Suga, the highlight was the Apple crumble. It was delicious.
Wines, Cocktails and Premium Spirits galore were offered.
The most outstanding for Suga was the tender, fresh, succulent cut of Beef! Perfection.
The Chefs were personable and pleasant, especially the men who had a charming flair to their service. Well done Goddard. Well done.
Executive Chef Daniel Schwietzer and Gabrielle Williams from Suga Lifestyle
I thoroughly enjoyed the night and expected nothing less. It was evident that persons were pleasantly surprised, impressed and pleased with the high standard and quality of service, food and drinks that GCG presented. A lot of power players in the Events industry were present and I am sure they will be key to future events and persons that GCG will cater to.
There is currently a breakdown across the service industry, Wedding vendors in particular, with regards to efficient communication such as getting quotes to customers in a timely fashion, following up with customers etc., but GCG is coming full force now and they will be at Dîner en Blanc this Saturday and other events to come. You won’t have to look out for them too hard because they will be Simply Outstanding!
Pop-Up Gourmet can satisfy a variety of customers. Families, persons in the corporate sector that may have to buy lunch daily or host business lunch or dinner meetings, bar hoppers and ofcourse, the foodie that loves to dine at restaurants frequently throughout each month, all benefit from Pop-Up Gourmet.
Pop-Up Gourmet Advantage Card Holders can use their cards at over 70 locations in Kingston, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Port Antonio and the South Coast. Members can also enjoy special discounts and privileges at Food Lovers’ Experiences such as the annually held Simply Red ($500JMD off of ticket for 2014) and more.
It costs $6500JMD to sign up annually, where payment can be made online. They will also even come to you with a swipe card machine for payment! The card is valid for one (1) year and there is a referral programme for other benefits.
So how does it make sense? The average working person that buys a decent lunch including a beverage everyday for about $1000JMD and goes a little harder on the weekend can make back that fee in just over a month with 10-15% discounts at various restaurants and bars. Not to mention the family that eats out or gets take-out at least twice per week, that money is made back promptly.
Unfortunately, card holders cannot use Pop-Up Gourmet for Restaurant week menus but cards can still be presented for items otherwise. Also remember that Christmas is right around the corner with many outings, so the more you can save, the better.
Popular lunch locations include Toss & Roll, CPJ Market, China Express, Cuddy’z, Deli Works, New Leaf Vegetarian, JoJo’s Jerk Pit and More, Ocho Rios Jerk Centre, John Crow’s Tavern, Pier 1 and more.
Hot dinner spots include Caffe da Vince, Tamarind Indian Cuisine, Saffron, Fromage Gourmet Market, Evita’s, Opa, 689 by Brian Lumley, Mystic India and more.
When the end of the week comes and you are running up that bar bill, fret not if you hit up Macau, Bin 26, Cru, Margaritaville, The Deck and others.
I have enjoyed discounts of $500JMD and more from The Wine Shop, Christopher’s at Hermosa Cove and China Express to name a few. My Pop-Up Gourmet Card is so precious, I literally never leave home without it. One night I was hurrying to leave the house, switching from hand bag to clutch so carried just my cards and ‘get vex’ money, only to realise when I got to the restaurant that I left my debit card and only had my Driver’s License, Insurance card, Pop-Up Gourmet card and hardly any cash. Hilarious. But that Pop-Up Gourmet card popped me out of debt or having my friends pay when I was able to use my exact amount of cash as a result of getting over a $500JMD discount by presenting my Advantage card. Phew!
I have also found that when I have slightly overspent or was just within budget, the money from my discount can be used towards tips instead of having to find even more money to spend.
What are you waiting for? Check out http://www.popupgourmetjamaica.com/ for information on more participating locations, what’s hot in the culinary industry, benefits and to sign up now!
Also follow ‘popupgourmetjamaica or Pop-Up Gourmet Jamaica’ on Instagram and Facebook respectively, to keep updated on deals and when new Restaurants and Bars have signed on thus giving you more options to save!