Jerk Friday at Shingle Hut
Two white feather banners appear out of nowhere, and there is no signpost indicating arrival at the destination, but residents of Unity Hall, Montego Bay, know how to find Jerk Friday at Shingle Hut.
Privacy, and seclusion, within the confines of a vegetative oasis, that plays host to an electrifying bonfire is what greets every new visitor to Montego Bay’s latest Friday night jaunt, where jerked rabbit and oxtail are among the favourite foods being cooked on an open fire.
Five months into operation and attorney-at-law Arlene McLeod is awed by the response she has been receiving from Montegonians. Her stunningly fabulous villa, White Stone, adjoins the man-made outside bonfire eatery, but that is for another story.
For now, let’s talk about the homegrown rabbit that her chefs are working at perfecting, and the absolutely delightful oxtail which when jerked takes on a totally different character. Braised in advance, the oxtail is then placed on a coal stove for slow cooking, marinated with Shingle Hut’s jerk sauce.
Served with either roasted breadfruit, bammy, or tostones (green pressed plantains), it was difficult for The Gleaner’s food team to decide between the rabbit and the ox.
But these two favourites are just part of the exciting menu that the hut carries. Escoveitched fish, jerked pork and chicken have not escaped the hands of the men and women in this kitchen. They are complemented by renowned bartender Kemar McCalla, who serves up some of the most delectable cocktails imaginable.
“The whole idea is to offer a cultural cuisine in an alternate family-friendly setting. Anyone after leaving work can come to us every Friday night,” McCleod explained, while several families made their entry up the hill. Shingle Hut is over 100 feet above sea level, surrounded by coconut and 50-inch royal palm trees.
The facility has become an attraction, particularly for children who roam freely while there, and the owners credit the clean fun, amazing food, and the great people who work there.
“All our guests who come here speak about the ambience; they are able to relax,” said McLeod, making reference to the darkness that surrounds the property.
The owners say for now in order to maintain the charm and the privacy they prefer to have their guests by word of mouth. “We have been working with people coming, telling their friends and their friends, come as well,” said McLeod.
She wants people to visit her place and feel comfortable hanging out without being bothered by the cameras.
The bar is wrapped around a tree and gives the feeling of enjoying the outdoors with great friends and company.
The majority of the tables are wooden, while some are made out of concrete. McLeod who is big on design said some of the wood used to make furniture there was picked up from odd places such as trees cut down by the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPSCo). Sustainability at its best.