Rocksteady’s seafood boil steals the shine
In Jamaica, a seafood boil, which is popular in southern cities of America like New Orleans in Louisiana, and South Carolina, has fast become a must-have. The idea of gathering around a large platter of boiled shellfish, with a group of persons to eat with bare hands was almost abandoned during the pandemic but since eating out has returned to a norm, more seafood lovers are turning up at places like Rocksteady Seafood & Bar, to satisfy their cravings says, Kitwahna Vassell.
“It is our bestseller; it's done to perfection with the option of customising what is in the boil. What we offer is strictly Jamaican cuisine but with a little twist,” Vassell told Food.
A complete seafood boil from Rocksteady, dubbed 'Gimme Everything', is chock-full of crab, crayfish (or janga), shrimp, mussels, lobster, sausage, corn on the cob, and Irish potato – having the ability to steal the shine from other seafood dishes and the wider menu options. It has the right balance of salt and pepper but the sauce or soup has a surprisingly sweet aftertaste that intrigues the taste buds. It's a Rocksteady secret formula that no one has been able to figure out.
Other top seafood dishes include the steamed snapper in a creamy coconut sauce, grilled salmon basted with a choice of honey glaze or garlic butter, and sweet and spicy lobster, and the menu also carries special combo options of two seafood types.
Trips to Portmore's Hellshire strip over the years inspired this restaurant owner and founder to curate a more central spot for residents in the Kingston and St Andrew area, he said. A lover of seafood himself, Vassell got the idea to establish a restaurant that specialised in traditional cuisine, that also celebrated Jamaican culture.
“I am a big supporter of the Hellshire shops but I had a dream to bring Hellshire closer in a space that was comfortable and chic. I also wanted it to be an entertainment spot. We created it with an outdoor backyard dining setting, which has become popular for birthdays, baby reveals, bridal showers, and corporate functions as well, and most recently a wedding reception,” said Vassell.
The restaurant is open for lunch daily, where the lines start early for fried chicken with curried goat or 'just a sprinkle' of the gravy, as one customer stressed; the stew peas with pig's tail finishes early on a Wednesday and there is also an interest in their latest creation, a creamy curry pasta with curried goat.
“We have quite a number of persons requesting stew peas to be available on other days, but currently we only do Wednesday and we have been trying to work on making that transition.”
The side dishes are varied from festival, bammy and sweet potato or regular fries, to Basmati white rice or Jasmine rice and peas, creamy mashed potatoes, pressed green plantain, fried ripe plantain, and Jam-Indian Roti.
The entertainment offering is also diverse, with karaoke on a Thursday being one of the more popular nights. The bar is also open for business with some of their cocktails taking on a personality of their own, inspired by Jamaican culture, and songs – just ask their in-house mixologists to make you something special. Frozen mixes like the Bob Marley and Candy Land are sweet treats.
“I want to say that our chefs cook with lots of love; they believe that the way to someone's heart is through their stomach. Our food is flavourful, colourful, and tastes incredible. Time is spent in the proper prepping of these items and they are freshly cooked. The ambience sells Rocksteady best and the food keeps persons coming back,” he said.