For the third instalment of our feature 'Dining After 6 pm', we're seated at the table of the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel's 24 Seven Café perusing the new menu.
The change in ownership of the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel has brought about changes in the kitchen as well. The Hendrickson family's takeover of the landmark Knutsford Boulevard hotel has seen Mark Cole (former head chef of Rooms Ocho Rios, Hedonism III and Breezes Runaway Bay) take the reins as executive chef and revamp the menu options with his own flourishes. Hearing of Cole's new posting, a curious Thursday Food swung by last weekend to see and taste what the chef had up his famed culinary sleeve.
The Pegasus is in the midst of hosting its annual two-day Wedding Extravaganza event, so the heavy foot traffic in the lobby is to be expected. The 24 Seven Café functions as ground central for the scores of wedding expo patrons and hotel guests seeking to silence the rumble in their tummies.
The airy café — with open views of the Olympic-sized swimming pool below and the deli staff preparing wraps, brewing coffee, espresso, and cappuccino — is a beehive of activity. Ever-so-polite employees are kept on their toes tending to customers.
Chef Cole pops out of the kitchen to make a formal introduction and to walk us through his complete overhaul of the menu for the café, which, as its name implies, opens for business 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. "A new executive chef equalled a new menu," Cole explains. "The previous menu had existed for a long time, so I wanted to modernise it and serve Jamaican food with an internatonal flair." Consultations were had with the hotel's guests and clients, reveals the chef, before a re-imagined menu was finalised. With the deliberate aim of adding distinctive Rock flavours to the meal offerings, Cole points out that the classic mac and cheese, for example, is done in coconut milk; while the lamb chops are jerked and served with a sorrel chutney.
Those looking to dine out after 6:00pm are afforded a pleasant variety of menu selections. There are salads (including the new spicy garlic shrimp with crumbled feta cheese and cherry tomatoes), sandwiches and wraps, burgers (the Pegasus lamb burger with Pepper Jack cheese, mushrooms and bacon is a hot seller), pizza, pasta dishes, entrées, and of course, decadent desserts (we heartily recommend the sinfully delicous tamarind cheesecake).
The layout of the Café is now significantly more spacious, as the Pegasus' adjacent Columbus restaurant is no more. We are told the café, which has a daily buffet from noon to 3:00 pm, can comfortably seat over 150 diners. Cole divulges that customer feedback so far has been encouraging. He advises us too, that while not widely known, the restaurant is in fact, quite responsive to customers with special dietary needs: "We offer personalised service to those who are vegetarians or might have specific diet requirements; they can simpy indicate beforehand what they want." The customised eye to satisfy diner demands is reason enough to give 24 Seven Café a (new) try. (Photos: Garfield Robinson)