Dinner at Fromage

Thursday, February 13, 2014    

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Lisa-Gaye Chin's travels to Europe and North America with her businessman husband Kirk Chin would inevitably find the pair making reservations at a gourmet restaurant. An unapologetic lover of fine cuisine, Lisa-Gaye was dissatisfied whenever she returned home to The Rock and failed to locate an eatery that replicated the Euro-centric, bistro-styled palate she enjoyed. So, the Chins did the next best thing and opened their own almost year-old bistro, Fromage Gourmet Market on Hillcrest Avenue.

Quaint, with just the right flourish of intimacy, Fromage became an immediate hot spot for the hip breakfast and lunch crowd looking for light fare such as Greek omelettes, specialty pancakes, paninis, wraps and chowders.

An observant Lisa-Gaye, however, noticed a trend among customers.

"We had about three to four tables inside and two more outside, and a lot of people kept on asking for more seating, so they always took their orders to go," she told Thursday Life.

"We saw a need for more seating," the restaurateur noted. There was, too, the rush of customers who came near to the previous 7:00 pm closing time, wanting to dine-in.

Expanding Fromage seemed a natural progression, and fortuitously, the opportunity presented itself when the business place next door closed shop in November last year.

The Chins acquired the adjoining square footage, converting it into a dining room and bar, and adding dinner to Fromage's existing breakfast and lunch menus.

"Good food is what we want to concentrate on," the always effervescent Lisa-Gaye outlined to us ahead of a dinner menu tasting she and hubby Kirk hosted for the Jamaica Observer Food Awards judges Monday night, joined by guest judge, clothing retailer Jimmy Josephs, who was celebrating his birthday.

"We wanted to create a comfortable place that was more a wine-friendly atmosphere," she shared, noting that the new dining space seats 35.

A new chef is in the house — Homel Simpson, who cut his teeth at Café Aubergine -- and the proprietors and diners are reportedly pleased.

"So far, so good," Lisa-Gaye said of Simpson's execution of the dinner menu she helped to create that debuted just last week. "The reception has been amazing."

Dinner, she said, maintains Fromage's casual dining aesthetic, so the dining space is sans tablecloths.

On the menu are crab cakes, bacon-wrapped prawns, fig-baked brie, pomegranate smoked salmon, steak au poivre, pasta pomodoro, kale and apple salad, and a host of options.

And, what else in the pipeline for the Fromage? "We have been thinking about expansion. A lot of people have been asking about a Kingston 8 location, and doing a smaller version that offers a to-go express menu," the owners divulge. "Invitations have also come from Montego Bay, but we have to get things right here before we think about expanding."

Sit at the table with Thursday Life and the Jamaica Observer Food Awards judging panel as we break bread over Fromage's newly launched dinner menu, and enjoy libations compliments of J Wray and Nephew.

— Omar Tomlinson

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