An Army of Flavours awaits at Soldier Camp
A tasty wonder, tucked away in the beautiful gem of Port Antonio, that embodies the true flavour, soul and heart of Jamaican cuisine, is how one could describe Soldier Camp Bar and Grill.
There is nothing common about the decor or tantalising aroma that escapes from the food haven of Everold Daley. What is even more intriguing is the military signage, flags, and insignia that surround the bamboo hut. The story behind the 14-year-old restaurant is as fascinating as its name.
When Daley returned home to Jamaica from his service in the US Army, he was disappointed to learn that Jamaicans, as he put it, were not embracing the herbs, seafoods and true nature of the Jamaican cuisine. He longed for much more than the processed foods that reminded him of the unappetising eats during his stay in the US.
Determined to create a place that would represent the flavours of 'granny's dutch pot', Daley built a tent in the yard of his home and started out with crayfish from the Rio Grande in Portland.
After seeing the non-stop traffic from locals and foreign visitors who would often make repeat visits, Daley expanded his business to a comfortable bamboo hut with bamboo benches at broken-mosaic tile tables. The ambiance though unusual is quite appealing.
Delicious menu from the Dutchie
Daley, who credits his grandmother for his skills in the kitchen, cooks his dishes strictly from the flavours of natural seasonings like scallion, thyme and garlic. He admitted that his passion did not always rest in cooking but he saw where his home needed him and decided to fall in line.
Along with his wonderful staff of two and his daughter, Alrica, Daley presents nothing but the best in service and flavour. On a regular day, folks can expect a spicy cup of crayfish or bussu soup and the delicious aroma flowing from the pots of chef Shelton Tomlinson.
One of the most popular items on Soldier Camp's menu is the crayfish cooked in fresh coconut milk. From fish to shrimp and vegetable dishes, Daley and his chef are well known for their curry coconut sauce that is often a ravishing treat for the taste buds.
Daley's menu is not limited to seafood as he prides himself in satisfying a wide variety of appetites and tastes. At Soldier Camp, you can opt for the curry goat or curry chicken back, which is succulent and immediately delivers true satisfaction. You can also grab the tasty curry shrimp that can be accompanied by bammy, fried plantain, sweet potato, yam or rice and peas which is flavourful.
When asked what makes his dishes so amazing and different, Daley shared that there is something about the pots and the coal that bring out Jamaica's real taste.
"I use old tyre rims to hold the Dutch pots and cook on an open fire with natural coal and pimento wood chips from the Jamaican allspice tree. The ingredients are all-natural, from the island. I speak to my old traditions because I want people to enjoy the flavour," Daley said.
Soldier Camp has truly brought life to the quiet culture of Port Antonio. On Wednesdays, locals make their way to the spot to indulge in some 'old time' favourites like jerk pork hog head, ackee and corn pork, roast yam and sweet potato. Customers are also able to enjoy a wide range of drinks from the bar.
If you long for some real Jamaican food and vibes, visit Soldier Camp.
83 Red Hassel Road, Port Antonio
Tel: (876) 351-4821 or 715-2083 0r 773-5704