Smack in the town square on the top floor of the Royal Mall in Port Antonio sits Ambiance Lounge. If you look up, you might just 'prips' hard-working chef Kevin Edwards and his assistant, Wayne.
Edwards, whose salad garnishes look like miniature sculptures, comes from a long line of chefs, including his father and grandparents. He recalls his grandmother carrying him with her into the kitchen at the Blue Lagoon and his falling in love with the art of food. His passion for his work is evident in his appetising dishes and, today, he graciously shares some recipes for his specialities.
Owners Damian and Rochelle Townsend decided to create a cool, chill-out spot and food place when they couldn't find anywhere they liked to eat when visiting Portland's capital. Contemporary furnishings in the form of couches and low tables transformed the rustic, red-brick space into a comfortable hang spot of 4,000 square feet, including two outside patios, seaside view and glorious ocean breezes.
Late opening hours
In a town known for closing down by 10 p.m., Ambiance Lounge is open till midnight on week nights and goes until 4 a.m. on weekends.
Friday is seafood night, and on Sundays, it is the hottest spot in town with talented voices passing through as karaoke takes centre stage. Various themed parties and receptions are also held in the space that can hold up to 700 patrons.
The menu has a wide variety of options, including pastas, salads, sandwiches, kebabs, seafood, 'Go Widz' sides, and even vegetarian dishes. Be sure to drop in and sample Chef Edwards' fare and chill a while. You can also recreate the lounge's ambiance at home with these selections.
Shrimp and Chicken Kebabs
1lb chicken breast, cubed
1lb shrimp, deveined
1/4 cup pineapple chunks
1 tomato, cut in wedges
1 onion, cut in chunks
1/3 cup sweet pepper (green), cut in chunks
1/3 cup sweet pepper (red), cut in chunks
1/3 cup sweet pepper (yellow), cut in chunks
1. Marinate chicken cubes and shrimp in lime juice, paprika, olive oil, salt and pepper (to taste) for at least one hour.
2. Put chicken cubes, shrimp, pineapple, tomatoes, sweet pepper on skewers.
3. Grill six minutes per side and serve.Tip: Soak wooden/bamboo skewers in water before using to prevent burning.
Bean Stew Stuffed Cho-Cho
1/4 cup broad beans
1/4 cup green peas
1/4 cup red peas
1/4 cup guango peas
11/2 sachet coconut milk powder, rehydrated
1/3 cup vegetable stock
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2tbs vegetable oil
1/2 cup grated cheese
Dollop of sour cream to garnish
Pre-cook dried beans or use rinsed canned beans
1. Blanch cho-cho in salt water for 3-4 minutes, then cut in half, scoop out middle and set aside.
2. Prepare bean stew: heat oil in skillet, add onion, garlic, stir for three minutes.
3. Add coconut milk, bring to a boil, then add beans. Cook down to stew consistency.
4. Stuff cho-cho with beans.
5. Sprinkle cheese on top.
6. Broil for 10 minutes.
7. Garnish and serve with crispy potato wedges.
Ambiance steam fish and bammy
2lb fish, cleaned and scaled (Chef Kevin used parrot)
Sprig fresh thyme
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cho-cho, peeled, julienne
2 medium carrots, julienne
1 Irish potato, julienne
6 okra, chopped
1/2 sweet pepper, julienne
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup milk
1. Heat butter in large frying pan, add onion, thyme.
2. Add fish and sauté for three minutes, then add stock with remaining vegetables.
3. Put bammy to soak in milk for five minutes and then steam with fish for another three minutes.
4. Plate and serve.
Tip: Take a swim at the pristine beach of the Errol Flynn Marina (right across the road), before or after your visit to the Ambiance Lounge.
Chicken Port Antonio
1lb chicken breasts, cleaned and flattened
1/3 cup pineapple, sliced, halved and grilled
2 slices bacon, crisped
1/4 cup raisins
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
1/3 cup flour
1. Roll breasts with bacon, pineapple and raisins.
2. Add salt and pepper.
3. Dip chicken breast in flour, then egg wash, finishing with bread crumbs.
4. Deep fry for 35 minutes.
5. Rest breast, then cut on diagonal to reveal filling. Plate and serve.
Tip: Serve with a yummy double baked stuffed potato like at the Ambiance Lounge.
'Vibes Cuisine', which has partnered with The Gleaner's Food to present the best offering in popular food and lifestyle, airs on CVM-TV at 6:30 p.m. on Thursdays and at 8:35 a.m. on Wednesdays. Encore presentations air Sundays at 8 p.m. on Flow 100. Like our recipes? Then 'like' Vibes Cuisine TV on Facebook.