Jamaica Night at S Hotel

Food

Jamaica Night at S Hotel

Thursday, March 12, 2020

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Like Kingston, the Second City is dotted with exquisite dining options that appeal to both locals and visitors. Every Friday, the S Hotel on Montego Bay's Hip Strip has a Jamaican buffet that's so good you'll want to make it a regular part of dining out.

Chef Anthony Matthews ensures that the hotel's Jamaican buffet is authentic in both offerings and flavour. Being the S Hotel, everything is flawlessly presented with impeccable and affable service. The Jamaican buffet is served in Marketplace — the hotel's more casual eatery. Keeping seasonality and freshness at the fore, the buffet's dishes rotate. When Thursday Food visited the first thing that caught our eye was the assortment of local fruits that complemented the salad bar. There, too, was a server ready to assist guests in identifying the fruits — star apple, naseberry, Otaheite apples, starfruit, pawpaw, and sugar cane — and describe their flavour profiles. In an industry that is plagued with imported produce, it was refreshing to see the S Hotel taking a stand to showcase Jamaica.

Standout items included curried goat, braised oxtail, jerk chicken, jerk pork, seafood run down, and the corn-on-the-cob cooked coconut milk with cinnamon.

The curried goat was so flavourful you wish that, with the initial bite, all dinner conversation ceased because the brain had to focus on the deliciousness that the mouth was experiencing. The perfectly al dente potatoes and carrots, enrobed in the velvety curry gravy added even more depth to the dish. The braised oxtail was rich, unctuous and fork-tender. The notes of fresh thyme and pimento sang through each bite.

At the jerk carving station, chicken and pork were on offer. Typically in a north coast hotel, the flavours tend to skew towards mild; however, at the S Hotel, guests were given a full-blown Jamaican jerk experience. What a delight! Both types of meat were well-seasoned, spicy and could stand muster alongside some of The Rock's best jerk centres.

The seafood rundown was a revelation! Leave it to Chef Matthews and team to take the classic cioppino (Spanish seafood stew) and imbue it with local flavours. The rundown sauce was so good that etiquette had to be thrown into the nearby sea so that a fresh-made onion roll could be used to sop up the remaining sauce. Etiquette wasn't totally dismissed however. In Italy, the act of taking a small piece of bread to mop up the last of the sauce on your plate is called fare la scarpetta. So at Jamaica night, we employed some Italian rules of dining.

The steamed corn-on-the-cob deserves an honourable mention. Cooked in coconut milk with copious amounts of cinnamon the side dish was both savoury and sweet. It had nuanced notes of both hominy corn porridge and skillet-sautéed corn.

For US$25, the Jamaican buffet at the S Hotel is real value for money. A robust assortment of desserts and local non-alcoholic beverages that include pineapple juice and sorrel are included in the cost. Of course, if you desire to sip something stronger Thursday Food suggests the rum punch.


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