Jamaican Eatery Opens on Longboat Key

4 Oct

Looking forward to trying this place — here’s the Herald Tribune review:

Instead, the new Caribbean restaurant and bar is located along Gulf of Mexico Drive, behind Longboat Key Liquors, one of many businesses in a typical strip mall.

Not to take anything away from the fine folks living on Longboat — with their well-trimmed golf courses, endless condos and muted neighborhoods — but making the 25-minute drive from Sarasota to the place, I found it more than a bit odd.

I found out later, that’s part of its charm.

You see, Jamrocks (6836 Gulf of Mexico Drive) is an oasis of mellow vibes, authentic food and good riddims.

It’s evident once you drive in the parking lot, the sound of deep base-driven roots reggae is being blasted from a giant black speaker.

Now that’s the best welcome I’ve ever had on Longboat.

“It’s something different for the island,” said Sandra Williams, who runs the place with her Jamaican-born husband, Rodney.

After moving to the area from Colorado, the Williamses opened Jamrocks Sept. 19, celebrating the grand opening last weekend with a two-day party that included a steel drummer.

“We want people to come in here and feel like they’re in Jamaica,” she said.

They nailed it.

Once you get to Jamrocks, don’t be surprised if you pass a few folks sipping on some Red Stripe ($4.50) or coconut water ($3.50) at the tables out front.

Once inside, grab a seat at the tiny tiki bar on the right; it’ll make it real easy to check out their selection of domestic and foreign beers, which include Corona and Budweiser. Jamrocks also serves wine.

The 1,100-square-foot restaurant is narrow and features plenty of wood tables and chairs on one side and a narrow counter under a flat-screen television on the other side. The owners plan on setting up several tables out back for waterfront dining.

The walls, painted in mostly Jamaican flag colors, have plenty of photos of rastas and musicians who call the small Caribbean island home.

The first thing I ordered during my recent visit was a Red Stripe before looking over the impressive menu.

With entrees called “Bob Marley,” “Montego Bay” and “Garvey,” visitors are treated to some serious jerk chicken, salt fish, calalou and other traditional food.

Prices for entrees range from $11 to $13.

Jamrocks also serves jerk wings ($6 for an order of 10), jerk chicken salad ($8) and potato fries ($4).

I went with the “Bob Marley” ($12), three pieces of jerk chicken, pile of rice and peas and slices of fried plantain.

I wasn’t disappointed. And showed my appreciation by finishing everything on my plate.

Yeah, mon.

Call 383-4932.

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