Two Tuesdays ago I visited OPA’s new location at Devon House, which is on the right side after you enter through the front gate. Persons are familiar with that area formerly known as the Devonshire.
The Restaurant was quiet and cosy. I loved the ambience outdoors, similar to a deck in the backyard by the garden. Despite that, we sat indoors. Diners were present but it was not a full house.
The staff were quiet but professional and welcoming. I suppose they were a balance in personality to the owner, Alexx Antaeus who is quite eloquent but warm and friendly.
The menu still consists of Greek favourites from the old location such as Grilled Fish and other Entrées, Pizzas, Pastas and Salads. Not much has changed in that regard. However, the menu has expanded to include additional Mediterranean cuisine options such as Paellas and more.
We ordered a Starter that consisted of 4 Greek Dips served with homemade Pita Bread ($10.35US/$1324JMD) that they make fresh daily with extra virgin olive oil. The Dips were Tzatziki (yoghurt, cucumber, garlic), Tyrokafteri (spicy feta cheese), Revithia (Chick peas, scallions, lemon juice) and Skordalia (garlic, potato). They were all quite tasty and appetizing but I enjoyed the Feta dip the most.
Alexx took our orders by memory and not by hand, which was quite impressive. He offered assistance to anyone who had difficulty deciding what they needed to order and also wanted to put our orders in quickly to the kitchen. He gave us a heads up that they may take a little while.
Well a little while was an hour. Usually we would have gotten ourselves worked up and probably left already, but some of my friends were visiting and we had a lot to catch up on before they left the next day. The Appetizer dips could only go so far and we were sipping on some vino from their list, which seems to have a decent range and selection as usual. We tried the Lamb Gyros Stix ($7.75US/$992JMD) too. That was a small but succulent serving of well seasoned Lamb.
Not only do I respect that we were given the heads up on the wait, but we were checked on periodically and given a joke or two to keep the atmosphere light, like our stomachs at the time.
Finally, attempting to have a healthy night, I had the Psari Sharas (Fresh Grilled Snook basted with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and oregano. I’ve had that dish before at Opa, so it wasn’t anything new, but the good quality in taste remained the same and it was just the right portion served with Skordalia (a purée with potatoes etc.) and Greek salad ($20.30US/$2598JMD).
My friends explored other dishes that they enjoyed such as the Gyros entrée of Lean ground Pork served with Tzatziki, Greek salad, Potatoes and Pita ($19.50US/$2495JMD), Shrimp Penne Pasta with minty cream sauce ($23.40US/$2995JMD) and the Kotosouvlaki entrée consisting of Grilled Chicken Breast on a skewer served with Pita, Greek salad and Tzatziki (19.45US/2489JMD).
There was only one unhappy camper who ordered the Kotsi, a slow-baked Lamb Shank infused with lemon, olive oil and garlic served with sautéed vegetables and potatoes ($27.30US/$3494JMD).
Some persons may say they get small servings at OPA, but it really depends on what you order. My friend did not expect such a huge Lamb Shank. While that would make the usual person happy to dig in, being quite petite in size, it was daunting for her.
When Alexx checked on the table a little after we started eating, he asked her what was wrong and she explained. Without hesitation he wanted to know how he could make her happier and she agreed with his suggestions of converting the dish into a Lamb Pasta with her preferred tomato sauce and Penne Pasta. He returned quickly to the table with the transformed dish that he whipped up in the kitchen himself and even gave her some to go in a box so it wouldn’t be too much for her at once. She now joined us as an impressed and satisfied diner.
In discussion with Alexx, we were made aware that they source their meat locally from The Meat Experts Ltd. That is a good look. Meat Experts operates out of St. Ann and they have been making quite a name for themselves with their local, high quality, hormone-free meats.
Then just when we thought Alexx couldn’t be a more hospitable host, he asked if we were dining to celebrate an occasion. He was told my Birthday was coming up and he shared that his was coming up the day before. Fancy that.
He returned with a few members of staff and demanded that everyone get their cameras out and sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me, while he presented me with complimentary Baklava dessert (Filo layered with chopped walnuts and sweetened with honey). That was a kind gesture. I enjoyed all the love and the Dessert.
I get the feeling something may have been awry with the kitchen or staff that night so I would not let the long wait smear my first experience at the new location. The food was authentic and delicious and I appreciated the great service otherwise. So I will return.
I especially have to have some Drinks by the adjoined Reggae Mill Bar, also owned by Alex, since we missed out on it the last time as we wrapped it up early on the week night.
I went to Wine With Me in Negril by the Beachcomber Hotel about 3 weekends ago for some vino.
I liked to visit when it ran its course in Montego Bay, so I was happy to hear a few months ago that it reopened.
My husband and I had checked it out early on the Saturday night, but they only offered light plates of food. We decided to have dinner up the road and promised the extremely polite hostess that we would return later that night. I didn’t get her name, but she was the reason we made a special effort to return at 10:30pm before their closing hour.
Since we were coming from one of the few Restaurants you could dress up and go to in the Capital of Casual, I was quite pleased that I could go straight to Wine With Me feeling comfortable, looking Cocktail chic.
It was a cosy environment, furnished with modern décor and lighting.
All the persons that were having drinks earlier left, so we got all the attention to ourselves from the waitress. I can see they are likely to have good service regardless of the fact though.
The Chef got wind of why we had left earlier. He made us aware that he is the same Chef from the one that was in Montego Bay and that they are looking to expand the menu to include heavier dishes similar to what they had before such as Lamb chops, Fish etc.
They had a wide selection of Wines. Of course, a limited selection if you chose to have it by the glass. A glass of Wine costed about $7/$8USD +tx. With regards to prices for the Wine and Small Bites, they are fairly comparable to other local Wine Bars but transportation and other costs are taken into consideration. In order to offer the finest selection of Wines and artisan and gourmet Cheese in the small town of Negril, they are brought in all the way from Kingston. Prices are also quoted in US dollars, as most places in Negril due to the fluctuation of the dollar.
We enjoyed our vino and cigars on the outside terrace and we look forward to returning when they have expanded their menu and to also check out their Charcuterie platters.
Wine With Me is Suga Endorsed for a classy, cosy and intimate spot for drinks and small bites on the busy Negril Strip.
Wine With Me
Location: Norman Manley Boulevard, Rutland Point. Negril, JA
Opening hours: 6pm-11pm
By: Gabrielle Burgess
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Suga and a friend visited Cellar 8 in Manor Park two Saturdays ago for GNO talk over dinner.
I arrived a few minutes before her at 6:15pm and their Mixologist, one of my faves, Milton greeted and seated me. He was his usual courteous self and started me off with my cue of Johnny Walker. He then took the time out to make me aware of various changes to their menu. He made me want to try everything! He also told me that he will have a Johnny Walker Mojito in the mix for me soon.
There are now Pork Belly Tacos ($1400JMD) and Shrimp Tacos ($1400JMD). A nice addition to their Signature Oxtail Tacos that we love.
They have added a Charcuterie Plate ($2200JMD) for sharing that is great for a group with a few glasses of vino.
In addition to their tasty Crab dip, they now have Bacon & Cheddar, Spinach & Cheese and Artichoke Dips for $1500JMD.
My friend had their new delightful and flavourful, Seafood Bisque.
I had the spiced and breaded fresh Calamari with Chilli sauce ($1400JMD). For those who love pepper, it was tasty and quite spicy!
New Salads, Pizza, Sides
They now have a Lobster Salad. You would have to ask your server for availability and price.
There is a Going Green Pizza ($1400JMD) with spinach, red onion, cranberry, tomatoes, bell pepper and roasted garlic that sounds both healthy and savoury.
Spiced fresh Quinoa and more have been added to their Side Order offers ($500JMD).
I am happy that they have replaced the Basa with the Catch of the Day Grilled or Blackened with the Chef’s special spices ($1850JMD).
There is a Surf and Turf ($3500JMD) Filet Mignon and Grilled Shrimp, Pork Tenderloin ($2400JMD), Fire Grilled Flank Steak ($2200JMD) and more!
I had an old favourite, the Herb Crusted Grilled New Zealand Lamb Chops ($2400JMD). I was asked how I liked it and got how I liked it. It was tender, juicy and medium rare. Delish.
My friend is expecting and was settled with the Soup, but of course disappointed that she could not have alcoholic drinks. Milton took care of her and whipped up a refreshing Peach Cocktail that she enjoyed.
All prices quoted have an additional G.C.T and 5% service charge, that is increased for groups of 10 or more. So Cellar 8 is indeed pricey but delivers with great food and consistently, excellent service.
When it gets late and more people arrive, the tables are a bit too close for comfort though. Conversations of course get louder with drinks and depending on where you are sitting, getting out of your seat may be a bit of a challenge. They have started to seat persons outside but I believe they should cut off once inside is full. Persons have expressed not feeling comfortable or safe dining or having drinks beside the ATM machine with their belongings exposed.
Suga encourages you to still visit Cellar 8, a spectacular weekend spot but ensure that you call and book your table prior to going.
Enjoy the Weekend!
Cellar 8 Wine Bar
Location: Shop 10, Upper Manor Park Plaza
Opening Hours: Tuesdays-Sundays, 4pm-11pm
By: Gabrielle Burgess
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Suga and a friend visited Fromage Brasserie that opened recently in the Market Place. It is a bigger location for Fromage Gourmet Market on Hillcrest that we know and love. They are one of my favourites.
I loved the elegant, modern decor from the ceiling to the floor. The hostess was pleasant and the waitress was professional. Seating was comfortable but not so sure about the 2-seater tables. They looked a bit too small.
I ordered the Lobster Bisque ($700JMD) recommended by the waitress that came out quickly but it was not in the usual Bread Boule that Fromage offers. However, I realised that I did not specify mainly because the waitress did not ask. The salt seemed to have gotten away in the soup so I was disappointed.
The Bacon Shrimp Chowder would need half an hour more to be ready so my friend didn’t bother to order it.
For the main I had trouble deciding because they had so many items on their menu. I think less items should be on the menu, similar to the Fromage on Hillcrest. Sometimes less is more.
I was deciding between the Seafood Risotto that I had seen pictures of and the Lobster Ravioli. Again, the waitress recommended the Lobster dish, saying the Risotto tends to be a bit heavy because of the Saffron cream sauce and I wasn’t in the mood for that so ordered the Lobster Ravioli ($2300JMD).
I recommended that my friend who loves Shrimp Pasta have the Pesto Pasta with Shrimp ($2000JMD).
When the food arrived in reasonable time I wish I recommended that for myself because I clearly made the wrong decision. My friend’s Pesto Pasta with Shrimp was delish. I started to wonder if the waitress just recommended Lobster dishes because it had Lobster. She had seemed confident with her recommendations but she was wrong this time.
I’m not sure if the Chef was having an off day but I know the kitchen wasn’t pressured. There were other diners but the Restaurant was far from full.
As you can see, the presentation was poor. I saw no evidence of a Ravioli wheel or stamp used to properly shape the pasta. The Ravioli was overcooked and/or it had too much flour. It had a doughy taste and the taste of the Lobster was absent. The sauce wasn’t much to be desired for either. It needed more of a lemon zest and perhaps some chopped basil, fresh parsley and a touch of garlic.
I told the waitress it was horrible and not to recommend it again. Hopefully the Chef gets it right soon or it should be removed from the menu.
I couldn’t let my first visit end on such a bad note after expectations were high. So I ordered the Lobster Mac and Cheese that looked salivating in pictures and on plates passing my table to other diners.
The Lobster Mac and Cheese ($1000JMD) came out quickly and definitely saved the day. Presentation got 10/10 but the quality got 7/10. Believe it or not, it actually didn’t taste as good as it looked. It was tasty but lacked flavour. I think it needed a more pungent cheese and some garlic and herbs to spice it up. The Lobster Mac and Cheese at The Regency Room, Terra Nova is still a winner.
It was a disappointing visit and I felt robbed paying for that Lobster Ravioli but it is still early days for the Restaurant and I know given the history of the owners they will keep striving for better quality and service. The new Brasserie seems a bit pricey but I shall return in the near future to try some meat dishes such as the Feta Crusted Lamb ($3050JMD), Steak and Frites ($2000JMD) and the Korean BBQ Pork Ribs ($2450JMD).
Stay tuned for Part 2!
Location: Market Place- 67 Constant Spring Road. Kingston.
By: Gabrielle Burgess
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Suga is still enjoying Oak Wine Bar & Cocktail Lounge!
I visited Oak about 2 weeks ago for GNO over the holidays. It’s a small bar but it was a Wednesday night so it wasn’t packed. Service continues to be quick and efficient, enjoyed the selection of music that was played on the low and most of all, I enjoyed my Charcuterie board with a few glasses of Vino.
Their Charcuterie board is everything! It’s a spectacular, delicious pairing with wine including cured meats, Danish Blue Cheese that I love, Smoked Gouda, Olives, Pepper jelly and more!
Head over to Oak with family, for a date or GNO and share some bottles of wine or cocktails with delicious bites.
Oak Wine Bar & Cocktail Lounge Unit #5, 8 Hillcrest Avenue. Kingston 6, Jamaica
Tuesdays – Thursdays: 4pm-12am
Fridays & Saturdays: 4pm-2am
By: Gabrielle Burgess If you liked this article, follow Suga Lifestyle or like the Suga Lifestyle Facebook page.