I'm here in New York, traveling for work, and I had the opportunity to enjoy time off. Let me just say, any time that I am traveling, the first thing that I do is find at least 5 restaurants that I want to try. I love asking locals for their suggestions, but I also love doing my research to find good places to go. It's something about becoming familiar with a city or place by researching restaurants and neighborhoods that I adore. For me, coming to New York and looking for a restaurant is one of my favorite ways to visit each borough. I was planning to stop in Manhattan and there were a few places I wanted to go so it was only right to look up the best eateries Manhattan had to offer. I found several places, but the reviews, menu options and photos for Negril Village excited me to my core. It was settled, Negril Village for MLK Dinner! What a better way to celebrate my people than to visit a black owned establishment and enjoy Caribbean flavors and culture through food. Don't try to answer that, because it's no better way.
There’s something so enchanting to me about New York and I love living and traveling as close to locals as possible to take in that New York City experience. I look up my route on the Subway for my journey ahead. It's 25 degrees on a Monday New York evening so getting around wouldn't be an issue, just chilly. I learn that I am only 30 minutes away from the Greenwich area in Manhattan and 1 train ride away from my destination. Metro card loaded, let's go!
I get to the bustling area of Soho and walk a few blocks to find my destination. Immediately entering the restaurant, I felt like I had chosen a great place to eat. The ambiance was super chill vibes. There were more lively areas of the restaurant and also, more lowkey areas near a window where you can take advantage of people watching. I'm all about that. I'm that friend that will make up a whole scenario about what people are doing, where they are going, or what their relationship is like. So fun! LOL.
If you read my previous entry "So... I love food," you have been made aware of my love of trying several different dishes at a new restaurant. I received the menu and looked it over for about 15 minutes. My waiter came to my table 2-3 times before I could make a decision. The host came over and asked if we were ready yet and I had finally narrowed down my top 5 options, lined up my questions, and ready to get a genuine opinion on every dish I had in mind.
Getting started, "...so I'm thinking Roti with Calabash Stew..." The host shares that he prefers his stew with rice or quinoa, instead of roti, because of the texture of the stew. I began asking details of the texture of the stew while simultaneously imagining eating it and how the texture would peak my taste buds when mixed with rice, quinoa or with roti..mmmmmm warm roti..mmmm. I immediately decided that I would go for quinoa instead, but they were out, so I went for the rice. "What's your favorite of the sweet plantains and the sweet potatoes?" Of course it was plantains, I mean, "I could eat them every single day, " said the host and I at the same moment while laughing, though so very serious. Plantains forever!!! ...So I went with a side of those. I asked my server for one of his favorite items on the menu and he came so alive speaking of the Ackee Tostones. I had never tried Ackee and I have been really interested in doing so, learning of how many ways it can be used, especially if I'm cooking for someone living a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. "What is ackee... and what is saltfish.. I've never had it, but I've been wanting to try it?!" The server shared with me that ackee is a fruit and saltfish is known as a staple ingredient in Jamaican cuisine. The saltfish is dried and salted fish (typically cod) that adds key flavor to the ackee. The host confidently told me that tonight would be the best time to try ackee, so of course, with no hesitation, I added the Ackee Tostones to my smorgasbord of dishes I would explore at Negril Village. I mean, at this point, I trusted him. We've already built a connection over plantains and I knew that he caught my vibe and felt how passionate I was about my menu selections. I was all in at this point. I was so proud of myself for narrowing down my dishes to 3.. finally!
The Ackee Tostones came out first, as they were considered a starter. Oh my God! I was born again mKAY! The Ackee Tostenes melted my soul, they were sooooooo good. I mean, lacked nothing. I was given 5 pieces of tostones, which are green plantains, fried golden and the Ackee was on the top (great for sharing). It reminded me of a crostini type of hors d'oeuvres. The ackee was blended with sauteed onions and other fresh ingredients that were sauteed and cooked up together. The texture of the ackee cook-up was buttery, creamy, looked similar to scrambled eggs, and topped with saltfish, what seems to be a pair made it heaven (ackee + saltfish). A not-so-shy amount of ackee was served on top of the tostones, which were served on top of fresh arugula. Wanting to experience every thought that the chef put into the dish, I placed the arugula on top of the ackee and it was love at first bite baby.
The Calabash Stew... yummmm! If you enjoy plant based dishes, this one will not disappointment. This mix-up of veggies and legumes featured curried lentils, split peas, barley vegetables, like broccoli, carrot, zucchini, potatoes, greens, OH MY, with a side of rice. I spooned in some rice and mixed it with the Calabash, the stew was so good over rice and I know I would have enjoyed it over quinoa as well, if quinoa was available. One thing I treasured about the Calabash was that the veggies still had a great crunch to them! I love crunchy textures and I love my veggies to maintain that perfect crunch; this stew had exactly that! The stew was served with 3 plantains on top, one of which I ate as soon as the bowl hit the table, you will notice in the photo below. I'm so glad that I ordered a side of plantains because they were soooo goodT, sweet and ripe! The side of plantains could be shared and also enjoyed as an appetizer. The stew was filling and I was able to take home some for leftovers, but believe you me, not nan other plantain was left in sight.
Lastly, I did enjoy a drink, which was a suggestions of my server. I trusted him as well, we built a great rapport and he was very knowledgeable about the menu too. Much appreciation!! He told me that the drink I had in mind would remind me of a spiked Bailey's cocktail, but spiked to the extreme, which was so true. I ordered the Negril's Rum Cream. I lovvvvveee Jamaican Rum honey. The restaurant has a full bar and guests can enjoy cocktails as well. Their cocktails are very potent and I enjoyed every sip, down to the ice and the maraschino cherry.
My overall experience of Negril Village was great! So good!! I enjoyed a window seat, got to people watch, casually sat across from Asap Ferg and his new red dyed hair cut, and enjoyed every single item I tried! I would definitely return to this restaurant and try something new and also enjoy eating what I have already tasted.
I recommend this restaurant to anyone who enjoys flavors of the Caribbean, whether you are carnivore or plant based. What I enjoyed most is not having to feel like I am settling for a meal with a lack of options. I felt like I could pick so many things without restriction. The host and servers were amazing, attentive, and accurate with their descriptions of every dish I asked about. They were patient, present, and you could tell that they enjoy their what they do. I enjoyed them. And I also give myself a gold star for actively working towards trusting other people when I comes to matter of the heart ♥️😌🥰😋⭐️
Ambiance - 4 stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Service - 4.5 stars🌟🌟🌟🌟💫
Food - 4.5 stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟💫
What was on my plate
There's tons of shopping and other things to do in the Soho area and the Museum of Ice Cream is right across the street.
Thank you so much for reading!