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Montego Bay, Jamaica

p
Pappy Nov 27, 2006 04:57 PM

Just back from a cold rainy week at the Ritz-Carlton.

Ritz-Carlton restaurants were universally awful, as always. Their most upscale place, Jasmine's, was not very good, but okay, prices aside (and you must put prices aside). Their place in the hills across the street, White Witch, was terrible. I can only guess that the filet was cooked in a warehouse in New Jersey years ago, cryovacked with a scoop of the sickly, sweet wine sauce, frozen, shipped, and microwaved as ordered ($52 - As I said, don't even look at the prices. Just get another drink). I must add, the Ritz does make a decent cheeseburger with cheddar and sauteed mushrooms, which when eaten poolside, is quite enjoyable.

Sugar Mill, which is associated with another hotel I believe, is also across the street and up the hill. It is even worse than White Witch. Just an embarrasing interpretation of what the hotel industry must think Americans must want when they are paying $42/plate. Imagine some recent vocational culinary school student who flunked out trying to put twelve ingredients on each plate, regardless of whether or not they belong together.

There were two highlights.

Down the road a mile or two is a local shack called Scotchies, or at least as "local" and "shacky" as we or the hotel was willing to let us go. You buy jerk pork, chicken or fish from the woman in the window cut-out, and she gives you paper tickets to hand to the man behind the chopping board who serves you your meat wrapped in foil. Grab a paper plate, a plastic fork, a wad of napkins, and a little extra scotch bonnet salsa verde. Have a seat on an empty beer keg around a rough hewn wooden table shaded by a thatched umbrella and dig in. Three of us stuffed ourselves and washed it down with 6 Red Stripes (which are very, very good there - even thought they are no good here).

Next door to the Ritz in the Half Moon Shopping Center was an Indian restaurant called Akbar. Despite my suspicion, it was actually quite good. Nan and Poori and Kulcha done as well as at some of our better places in DC. Tikka Chicken nice and moist. Lamb properly spicy. And fresh okra was well seasoned and sauteed until cooked, but still toothsome. Delicious.

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    adam Nov 27, 2006 10:25 PM

    I am heading to Montego Bay (also the Ritz Carlton) at the end of this week, and was about to post asking for suggestions - does anyone have any thoughts?

    Not breaking the bank is preferred, and I don't mind exploring a bit. Any way to avoid spending a fortune and not enjoying my food is much appreciated.

    1. p
      Pappy Dec 3, 2006 07:07 PM

      Adam,
      I can only guess it is your first time in Montego Bay? If you are at the Ritz, I have already fully outlined all of your options. The hotel may tell you that there is a place or two in town, but there isn't. We ventured into town for lunch one day and regretted it immediately. Stay at the pool and order the simplest thing on the menu. You might try the italian place at Half Moon next door. It is also very pricey, but I heard it was decent. We left two days early because of the weather and therefore didn't get there.

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      1. re: Pappy
        a
        adam Dec 4, 2006 03:21 PM

        correct, this was my first time. I didn't realize how few options there really were. And you were right about the Ritz - universally terrible and hugely overpriced. We had a decent but not great meal at the Town House one night when we left the resort, and an awful meal at the English Pub at Half Moon. It's sad that I'm looking forward to going to my local Carribean place in NY just so I can have some good jerk.

      2. phelana Dec 4, 2006 12:16 PM

        We stayed at Half Moon once and Round Hill once and dined on the hip strip and at some out of the way place. Nothing was amazing or memorable in Mo Bay. Loved the island...lost a little weight but ate great fruit from roadside stands.

        1. phelana Dec 5, 2006 10:38 AM

          I have lived in the West Indies and the Antilles and too always seek out local flavour. My child is West Indian and my then bf is Dominican so we wanted to immerse ourselves. We found nothing worthy of mention on the Hip Strip and not much in and around Mo Bay. Negril had more offerings. I felt Mo Bay was tacky at best. Round Hill was FABULOUS but wayy off the charts pricey for most. Half Moon was simply too big. Oh, their WI breakfast was very good.

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