Orlease King has a smile wider than the Martha Brae, and business partner Alexx Antaeus is as attentive as a five-star maître d’. If they weren’t restaurateurs, Thursday Food could easily imagine them running a tony boutique hotel. Looking at their success with Opa and the wildly popular weekly party Fridays at the Devon, one would think that all their Christmases have arrived. However, not ones to rest on their laurels, the duo is always looking to shake things up, challenge themselves and offer something valuable to diners. Cue: their newest project: Reggae Mill Restaurant.
The restaurant, which shares the same premises as Opa and Reggae Mill Bar, will offer guests authentic Jamaican food at attractive prices, six days a week. “The price point will be much lower than Opa as we want people to come regularly for lunch,” said Antaeus.
Tuesday last, King and Antaeus hosted an intimate private menu tasting as a part of the restaurant’s launch activities. Through King and Antaeus’s engaging storytelling, guests heard about the menu’s influences and got a further glimpse into why the co-principals are so good at what they do.
The meal began with a dish called Press Play (you press play to start, get it?) comprised of pressed fried green plantains and ackee and salt fish. Delish! This was served alongside Kickin’ Jamaican Wings coated in a housemade spicy barbecue sauce redolent with ginger and spices. Yum! Then things got really interesting.
The ‘second’ course was comprised of a sample of four Jamaican dishes — steamed fish, jerk pork, curried goat, and oxtail. King and Antaeus were not just content with guests tasting the food; they also showed the actual portions that guests dining at Reggae Mill Restaurant will get. If you’re wondering, they are substantial.
The steamed fish was bursting with old-timey run-a-boat goodness. Inspired by a childhood neighbour of King’s who was famous for his steamed fish, and runnin’ boat (the act of throwing together a meal, cooked outdoors, that is shared with neighbours) the Reggae Mill version will make you disengage with etiquette and suck the bones dry. The jerk pork, a dedication to King’s pork-loving grandmother who passed away earlier this year, was smoky, flavourful, and sweet with pimento. The dish accomplished appealing to both those who can’t handle pepper and those who crave it. How?
The curried goat is made with local goat procured from a local goat breeder simply known as Rudy. “When I thought of adding goat to the menu, there was only one person who I’d trust with quality goat meat, and that’s Rudy,” said King. Rudy’s goats are given royal treatment and do not die in vain. The dish was balanced and flavourful; some guests asked for more. Now, that’s a message to you, Rudy.
Apparently, whenever King’s sister makes oxtail and beans, folks exclaim “oh my God!” which, for years, made King reticent to make her version. Let’s say that there’s no need for her to be shy, as her oxtail and beans was moreish and satisfying.
The meal closed with two desserts — a chocolate lava cake and rum and raisin bread pudding. The cake was made with local artisanal chocolate and the pudding with lots of white rum. Both were very good.
Reggae Mill Restaurant will also have Jamaican-inspired cocktails. At dinner guests sampled a delightful concoction created by CPJ mixologist Chrisptoher Hyatt, which comprised Blackwell Rum, lime juice, a splash of Scotch bonnet pepper, and sparkling Glinter kiwi soda. CPJ, too, provided the four wines that were paired with the main courses.
Reggae Mill Restaurant is located at the historic Devon House and is opened Mondays to Fridays 12 noon to 11:00 pm, Saturdays 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm, and is closed on Sundays.