Fri | May 26, 2017

Eat Around Jamaica: Solo's Restaurant sizzles

Published:Thursday | September 24, 2015 | 9:00 AMLyndsey McDonnough
Eeni meeni minie mo! Where do we start? Lyndsey (right) and Melanie Miller get ready to dig in.
The choice is clear, we shall have this big monster.
Nope, dig again, that’s too small. Lyndsey McDonnough (centre) and Melanie Miller make their pick from one of the local fishermen.
Reeling in the day’s catch, Lyndsey could not help but to find out what the crowd was about.
Fresh and ready to be devoured – fried fish.
The delicious roast conch.
The scrumptious garlic-butter lobster.
Seasoned to perfection and Lyndsey’s favourite – brown-stewed fish.
Packed with nutritious vegetables and crackers – steamed fish.
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They say there is nowhere better than yard, and over and over again I am reminded just how true this statement is. From the culture of our people, to the beauty of our lands, and, of course, the different delicacies hidden in the quaintest spots.

As the countdown to The Gleaner Sponsored Restaurant Week continues, Melanie Miller of Kingston Kitchen and I took part or rather 'dig in' to Eat Around Jamaica.

Being the foodies that we are, without hesitation we decided to jump into our cars and head to Port Maria to experience all that Solo's Restaurant had to offer. Along the journey, we took a moment to digest the beauty of Jamaica - the hills (driving through St Mary), the fruit stalls along the way and also the vibe of the Jamaican people going along their way with that true 'no problem' vibe. I must admit, we had to stop twice to ask for directions because this trip was more than eating and experiencing a hidden gem; it was also discovering the hidden gem of Pagee Beach.

I know many of you reading this are asking yourself where the hell is Pagee Beach, so let me give you a heads up. Driving to Ocho Rios via St Mary, when you reach to the town of Port Maria instead of turning left to go to Ocho Rios, you turn right and drive straight down - once your mouth opens wide with the beautiful view, you have arrived.

I can only think of one word to describe Pagee Beach, and that is breathtaking. The view of the island off the coast is every photographer's dream, then as you drive down and you are met by canoes parked up to access clean white sand beaches. I recommend that many of you reading this take a 'drive-out' and enjoy it with close friends and family.

When we drove onto Pagee Beach, we were greeted by a friendly fisherman, who said: "No worries Miss, you can park here." I parked, jumped out of the car, thanked him and immediately walked towards Solo's Restaurant, where I met the father-daughter team of Errol and Latoya Johnson, who owns, and operates this small operation. We sat and chatted for a while, over an ice-cold Red Stripe, about the day-to day runnings about the fish dish that every person must have when visiting.

What is good to note about Solo's Restaurant, is that every item on the menu is freshly caught by the fishermen in the area, and so his operation directly affects the lives of his community. 

Then it was time to sample the menu.

We were lead to the table set on the beach and told to sit back and relax. While we waited on the food to arrive, Melanie and I laughed to ourselves selfishly saying, "Let's not put this place on Instagram; too many people will flock it." But that was our way of acknowledging how much of a gem Pagee Beach is.

The food came and the conversation ended. We were treated to roast conch, garlic-butter lobster, brown-stewed, fried, and steamed fish, all served with bammy and crackers. The only problem we had at this point was which plate to start with. And trust me everything was so good!!!