A five-month-old establishment, located in the Cobblestone Professional Centre, Mandeville, is the next out-of-town stop for the Jamaica Observer Food Awards judges. It was a veritable OMG moment.
It's the restaurant's attractive and cosy setting that hits you first, followed by the genuine smiles of the staff as they share the many seating options. Comfortable diners make happy customers appears to be the credo — it is, we soon learn, no idle boast. Our first thought is to occupy the inviting sofa positioned like a four-poster bed across from the well-appointed bar and smack in front of the flat-screen television. However, that thought is immediately dashed, as soon as we discover the elegant patio complete with casement awning windows. The off-white sofa beckons and we begin pondering menu options. Late afternoon soon gives way to dusk and an insignificant drizzle becomes torrential downpour. As if on cue, the cosy ambiance quotient is increased as self-illuminating candles (who knew?) create the atmosphere of an intimate dinner party. The stage is set. We examine the menu for both lunch and dinner, which raises a few eyebrows. The prices are incredible and the options pretty impressive.
OMG Restaurant and Coffee Bar was born out of a previous fine-dining establishment, Bird Of Paradise. The economic downturn forced the enterprising owner Christopher Bird to rethink his dining strategy. "We opened Bird Of Paradise in 2005," Bird shared with the judges that "it did well until the economic climate in the parish changed and so we had to quickly adjust". The adjustment was drastic and immediate as the upscale restaurant became, in less than three weeks, a more casual and fun establishment. Bird has not completely turned his back on the formal dining experience as the comfy endroit on the upper level of OMG still affords that option. There are, too, conference facilities. Excellent food remains the hallmark and the shrewd Bird himself a qualified baker has handed the reigns of his kitchen over to culinary doyenne Débè-Ann Chen. Aha! We now fully understand the impressive range of menu options.
As for the name change, restaurant manager Stephen Whitely jokingly informs the judges that: "It's not just about the free WiFi. "The moment you enter the restaurant, there must be an OMG moment. It's about giving our customers that 'wow' effect. So when they look at the menu, they should say OMG because of the variety in food items. When they look at the prices, they should say OMG because of its affordability. When they taste their meals, they should say OMG because of its deliciousness. The whole experience is a wow". Naturally, owner Christopher Bird concurs. In speaking with the judges, he stressed the importance of customer-friendly prices. "We have to ensure that every customer across all socioeconomic spheres can come into OMG and order something that works with their pocket. As such, our lunch specials begin as low as $350."
It appears to be resonating as the restaurant feeds an average of 100 customers from Monday to Thursday, with numbers increasing at the weekends.
Add OMG to your list of eateries to check out ahead of the Food Awards and match your rating with ours. We reckon, like us, you'll be mouthing OMG in between exquisite fare. Our judges enjoyed the following:
Cobblestone Professional Centre,
1 Brumalia Road, Mandeville