Last Sunday at 6:30pm, I had Dinner at The Terrace, Terra Nova All Suite Hotel. The Terrace is in the Epicurean category ($4300JMD) for Restaurant Week and my husband, Randy and I were looking forward to having sumptuous dishes.
We had a great start with the Appetizers. I preferred the Seafood Medley.
We both had the Lobster Bisque to follow, which was rich Lobster Soup, finished with cream and Brandy. I appreciated that the Soup was not salty. It was rich indeed and tasty.
Apart from a long wait before the Entrees, service was smooth. When we were waiting a little bit more than half an hour with no update on the arrival of the Entrees, a waiter caught my eye looking around and said that our Entrees were coming out shortly and they did. Besides that hiccup, the staff were cordial and quite attentive. The food was sumptuous as expected too.
With the above salivating description of a Surf n’ Turf, I think they could have served more than a single Shrimp and Mussel. Props to the Chef though, because that cut of meat was perfection and cooked to order, medium rare, exactly how we like it. Same goes for the Lamb Chops! No disappointment there, because Terra Nova is known to have the best on the island. I thoroughly enjoyed those portions.
Dessert was decadent and quite a delightful ending to our Sunday Dinner.
The three courses with the addition of a beverage, service charge and G.C.T came to about $6000JMD per person. The Terrace at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel was definitely value for money and is Suga Endorsed for Restaurant Week.
There are still three nights left for Restaurant Week and it may not be too late to make those Reservations!
The Terrace at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel
Location: 17 Waterloo Road. Kgn. 10.
Ph: 876-926-2211; 876-926-9334
By: Gabrielle Burgess
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Suga had a fabulous date with husband, Randy Burgess last Saturday night. Reservations were for 7pm at Fromage Gourmet Market & Bistro on Hillcrest Avenue and we were on time.
This Fromage was listed under the Delectable Category ($3800JMD) for Restaurant Week (RW). So dinner with a beverage including 5% service charge and tax can run you up to $5500JMD for one person.
We chose an early time for dinner, when the newly refurbished and slightly more spacious Fromage would not have been filled to capacity as yet. It reached full capacity midway through dinner though.
The Staff were courteous and extremely attentive without being overwhelming. All members of Staff were on the floor, paying attention to the tables whether they were serving that table or not. A sign of well-trained staff. Our server was Dimel, who I am familiar with. Always a pleasure.
Food came out like clockwork and water glasses were topped up when necessary. Great service.
The Appetizers were flavourful.
I had the Bacon wrapped maple smoked Prawns and Randy had the Marlin Corn Fritter Stack. I always enjoy Fromage’s house-made Pepper Jelly that has that divine mix of spicy and sweet as the name suggests.
As we wrapped up with the Appetizers, JPS had a promotion going on throughout the night for RW diners to download their JPS App and drop their card with contact information into a bag. They came during dinner service to do the first raffle draw for the night.
Our Main dishes came out shortly after the excitement of shaving $5000JMD off of our next Light bill.
My BBQ Ribs pleased my taste buds as described. They were lean, juicy, well seasoned and slow-cooked to a tender perfection.
Randy’s Steak Au Poivre was cooked to order. It was so succulent. Bravo Chef!
Without a doubt, dinner came to a close for me with their popular Caramel Bread Pudding. It was warm and scrumptious as usual with their salivating caramel crumble on top.
Randy thoroughly enjoyed his Bailey’s Ice Cream Sundae.
Fromage Gourmet Market & Bistro is Suga Endorsed for Restaurant Week. Pay them a visit if you can and continue to enjoy.
Stay tuned for Terra Nova’s review for the Epicurean Category!
Remember that the Menus with Restaurant Locations and Contact numbers are online at:
***Prices for the Nyam & Scram and Morning Bites Categories do not include Beverages and G.C.T***
Here are my recommendations for Breakfast and quick Grab & Go Bites:
Morning Bites – Kingston
> Cannonball Cafe is the only establishment listed this year although Breakfast can be sourced at a discounted price from Brew’d Awakenings as well.
Cannonball has decent Breakfast deals for less than $600JMD at all locations – Loshusan (Barbican), Manor Park, New Kingston and Sovereign North.
Nyam & Scram (30% off) – Kingston
100 at 100 Hope Road would be my primary choice for this Category. Nothing is new on their menu but they have tasty items that are well-known at a discounted price.
The Jerk Chicken Cocowich is consistently good and you get their signature Jackpot Dessert to go with it for $1670JMD!
You could also get their delicious, cheesy Flatbread and Soup for $1169JMD or two other options for less than $2000JMD.
4U Vietnamese Restaurant in Manor Center should be a decent spot, but I would go during the week to avoid the crowd on the weekend.
I recommend their Sizzling Plate of Beef, with which you get Soup and Dessert for $1200JMD. Ask for the Chili Sauce if you want more spice!
Ali’s Jamaican Cuisine on Annette Crescent has some Spicy Curried dishes with Roti for less than $900JMD.
I love Kushites Vegetable Cuisine at Eden Gardens on Lady Musgrave Road, but I believe they are more for fine dining and are too pricey for the Nyam & Scram Category. The same goes for Fromage Brasserie in Marketplace.
Oasis on the Oxford on the other hand is too expensive for mediocre food and poor service.
Jo Jo’s Jerk Pit and More on Waterloo Road is a good food spot, but their service is slow on a regular basis. So imagine Restaurant Week! I tried them once for RW but would avoid doing so again in the future.
I went to Nirvanna Restaurant and Lounge last year for this category. The menu is similar so the dishes should be tasty and filling. You should get value for your money. They usually have good service with a full house, but to be on the safe side, I had called in my order ahead of arrival last year. It worked out well, so you could do that too if you have a tight lunch hour.
Brew’d Awakenings as mentioned earlier, is simple but has decent Breakfast bites and other choices such as a Salad or Panini for $800JMD.
Triple T’z Eatery on Annette Crescent has a good reputation amongst my Suga Bears, so I would give them a try where value for money is concerned. You can get two Meats and sides with Soup and Dessert for $1200-$1300JMD.
Enjoy and be sure to give Suga your Feedback!
By: Gabrielle Burgess
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***Prices for each category include choice of Appetizer, Main Course and Dessert. Beverages, GCT and Gratuity additional.***
There are many options, but just a few stand out for Suga based on reputation, service, previous experiences including RW experiences, their RW Menu, usual serving sizes and value for money.
The Palms at C&C South Beach and Tamarind Indian Cuisine.
Menu stand outs for C&C South Beach are their Smoked Salmon Salad Appetizer, Washington Palms Pork Chop and Seafood Thermidor main courses. Their options for Dessert should please everyone. Keep in mind that South Beach usually has large serving sizes.
Menu stand outs for Tamarind Indian Cuisine include the Non Veg Platter, which is a combination of assorted chicken tikka, sweet chilli shrimps and sliced Szechuan fried fish, as well as the Green Thai Curry with your choice of chicken, fish or shrimp accompanied by Naan bread/rice and Tiramisu for dessert.
I still haven’t made it out to Rib Kage at The Serengeti Bistro, Hope Zoo, but I have gotten good reviews. It could be safe to take a chance on them.
> Montego Bay
The new Hard Rock Cafe and the oldie but goodie, Pelican Grill are the best choices hands down.
> Ocho Rios
Evita’s Italian Restaurant is usually good and fairly new kids on the block, Great Escape Restaurant at Runaway Bay have been doing well. I had a good time at Great Escape for RW last year and their menu has not really changed Definitely value for money.
> Old Harbour
Kaluga Cafe should please RW diners.
Dragon Court Restaurant has been consistently good over the years.
> Montego Bay
MVP Smokehouse has a decent menu to explore.
Smoked Marlin has delicious food and an inviting menu with value for money, but I question their ability to provide good service with a RW crowd. Good risk to take though. I suggest you go with fun company.
By: Gabrielle Burgess
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Suga brought you the low down for Crisp at The Gardens, Jamaica Pegasus ($5000 All Inclusive) and Picante ($7500 All Inclusive) at The Ruins, UWI Mona’s Visitor’s Lodge, so how were the other JFDF events? Suga Bears and Suga Daddies reported!
Most persons like to get bad news out of the way first. The events with the highest price tags were not that impressive for some patrons. That is, Vintage for $12000JMD all-inclusive and Brunch at the Gallery for $20000JMD/$150USD all-inclusive.
Meals at Vintage at the Manor in Jack’s Hill were described as basic and a low standard for Ortanique on the Mile, one of the restaurants in Florida that was represented by Owner Cynthia Hutson. Suga Bears enjoyed the view and Dessert though.
Brunch at the Gallery
Brunch at the National Gallery, Downtown Kingston presented by Suzanne and Michelle Rousseau was decorated beautifully by Tai Flora and had a sufficient selection of Wines by Select Brands, but the service of food was slow and it arrived to tables cold. The Brunch was from 11am to 4pm and after a long day, patrons were leaving at 4pm and Dessert was just being served. Should the blame go on the Event Planner, the Chefs or both? It was stated that the execution was poor.
The Presentation of some of the meals were also quite sloppy to say the least.
Did the Incredible Hulk have an accident here?! I was in disbelief and gathered that this was the consensus amongst most tables. This looked nothing like the neatly displayed dish on the Event’s social media page. Cold food, slow service and poor, unappetizing presentation is unacceptable for $20,000JMD. I believe things can be shaken up next year. There are so many other talented, efficient Chefs around and I understand the ambience of The National Gallery, but a change in venue could be considered as well.
Kudus to award-winning baker, Nadine Burie that probably saved both events. Her desserts are offered at Cafe Blue.
Setting bad news aside, persons fully enjoyed Meet Street and the Market in Downtown, Kingston ($500JMD entry)last Saturday. A patron said she did not know that Downtown could be so nice. The set up and atmosphere was phenomenal and the vendors outdid themselves.
Pork Palooza ($6500JMD All Inclusive) at Palm Drive, Hope Gardens that kicked things off for the festival on the Saturday the week before was a hit. The event is usually the favourite for Patrons. Jamaicans love their Pork! It wasn’t the unanimous favourite this year though.
Which event took JFDF 2017?!
Close call! It has been narrowed down to the new event, Chop Stix ($5000JMD All Inclusive) held at Zen Lawn, Hope Zoo last Wednesday that featured fare from the far East and the zesty, Picante!
Based on Food, Weather and Vibe, Chop Stix gets the edge. Picante had the on and off rain, which was uncontrollable with provisions put in place, but Jamaicans love a new event.
The Chefs, Caterers and Restaurants delivered at Chop Stix! Here was the Menu if you missed it. Chop Stix can’t be missed next year!
So what’s next for my Foodies? Restaurant Week!
Yes, I know Restaurant Week has lost its steam. Marketing has been ongoing but should be revised, including the selection of Ambassadors. JFDF being so close to Restaurant Week definitely overshadowed it.
Menus for Restaurants are more of the same, but it makes your choices that much easier. The good ones will pop out at you. So that means you may need to make reservations quickly or maybe not, because places I called yesterday that are normally booked out weeks in advance seemed to have quite a bit of space left.
For now, I am leaving you with my recommendations for the Epicurean and Delectable Categories. Here you go!
Epicurean ($4300 +tax +gratuity +beverages)
> The Terra Nova All Suite Hotel in Kingston.
Despite inconsistencies in service and quality throughout the year, they have managed to keep a good reputation for Restaurant Week so far.
Sidenote: I do not think any Restaurant in Market Place should be placed in the Epicurean Category. The venue is far too casual and a long wait is usually expected.
Out of town? Marguerites by the Sea, Montego Bay. You should expect a spectacular dinner and service with a seaside or picturesque garden view.
There are some other reputable Restaurants listed, but the lack of creativity with their Menus were the deal breakers.
Delectable ($3800JMD +GCT +gratuity +beverages)
> Fromage Bistro on Hillcrest Avenue in Kingston.
Nirvanna Indian Cuisine, Centro-Courtyard by the Marriott and Black Orchid Restaurant at Eden Gardens would be secondary choices.
In the other city? Both options from Mobay are primary choices – Mystic Thai and The Houseboat Grill. So persons can choose between the two based on the Cuisine desired.
***Stay tuned for more Restaurant Week choices from Suga Lifestyle.***
By: Gabrielle Burgess
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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.