Can The Sugar Mill Restaurant at the Half Moon Hotel retain The Norma Shirley Award For Restaurant of the Year and hold onto the Solomon Gardner Award for Outstanding Service? The judges have cast their votes.

Devon House is where the envelopes will be opened and the winners announced.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

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Coffee and a light snack were had at Pelican, Sunday last, ahead of brunch at The Sugar Mill Restaurant. We were not disappointed! Pelican remains the place where, yes, all Montegonians frequent. But, too, that one place that's guaranteed to elicit a smile and comforting nostalgia. It always just feels so right! We were tempted to prolong the visit but were already behind schedule.

The Sugar Mill Restaurant, even without our beloved Solomon Gardner [Robert Chambers has stepped into the role of maitre d' and is handling same with such aplomb we could almost feel Gardner's chest swelling with pride], remains the one stop where even the most discerning will bask in the flawless service and excellent menu offerings that pay homage to our culinary heritage. Butter, so banal, is replaced with escoveitch salsa, olives and assorted bell peppers and sun-dried tomato with blue cheese spread atop, fresh from the oven, wheat and walnut and fig rolls. Local mangrove oysters atop a bed of iced fennell leaves alongside cassava chips were followed by perfectly cooked pan-seared scallops topped with vanilla foam on a bed of tomato saffron compote.

The Jamaica festive affords tasty pops of flavour and all from one plate: jerk jackfruit with its own lightly perfumed chutney, pork belly, ackee and codfish flan and plantain fritters. How could the main possibly stand up to what had gone before? Well, it did and with no apology! The tender Red Label Wine braised short ribs, cooked low and slow until the meat reached fall-off-the-bone deliciousness, sat cosily atop the rice and peas cake. The herb potato diskette garnish became a veritable conversation piece. Talk about comfort fare! Dessert, coconut panna cotta with passion coulis, sesame seed crunch, vanilla sable and sugared golden, also did not disappoint. Coffee, tea and petits fours of key lime pie, nougat and Nutella chocolate brought the afternoon to a memorable close.

The wines courtesy of Select Brands were from start to finish perfect complements. Special mention must be made of the California Votre Santa Pinot Noir that almost upstaged the Taittinger!

The Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards committee welcomes The Half Moon Hotel to the 21st staging of the Caribbean's premier culinary experience.

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