A Progressive Dinner at Devon House
Thursday, September 06, 2018
It's easy to spend an entire day eating at Devon House. Those up to the challenge have probably already done so. Earlier this year, the historic landmark was designated Jamaica's first gastronomy centre. The dining experiences to be had at the on-site restaurants and food shops are varied and of high quality.
Here at Thursday Food, we challenged ourselves to plan a family-friendly progressive dinner at Devon House. It's exciting to have each course at a different restaurant. This is sure to excite even that family member who loves to say: “But, I've already eaten there!” Our challenge was successful; of course, it was. We're serious eaters. Here's our recommendation for a fun progressive dinner at Devon House.
This cosy restaurant adjacent to the trellis-lined walkway of Devon House is the perfect place to begin your night. The menu is brimming with delicious options, but stay focused — this is just the first stop. Thursday Food began our progressive meal with fresh pita, tabbouleh and hummus. OK, we also had some baklava. Who said that we couldn't have a sweet starter?
The hummus had a fantastic texture and was topped with top-notch olive oil. The herbaceous tabbouleh had just the right amount of mint and was bright with fresh lemon juice. The pitas were fresh, tore apart easily to hold mounds of hummus and tabbouleh. The baklava was so delicious that you need to try it for yourself. It was all very good.
Self-described “head cook, owner and everything” Jihad Albitar is warm, friendly and moves with alacrity. Damascus Gate offered a pleasant start to the meal and got us ready for the next course.
Ha! You didn't expect this, did you? However, La Pizzeria's 11 Neapolitan pizza options and drinks from Grog Shoppe's Mahogany Tree bar made this choice a no-brainer. Chef Massimiliano Proner is an expert pizza maker and is fun to watch as he navigates the mise en place on the line. He sprinkles mozzarella and freshly-chopped basil and drizzles olive oil on top of fresh-out-of-the-oven pizzas with such flourish. Move over, Salt Bae!
Proner is passionate about his product and it's a joy to watch him work. Kids can sidle up to the glass that separates the hearth from the dining room and watch the master. No worries if they are eager to eat: pizzas bake within a couple of minutes.
The jerk chicken with pineapple (let's settle this now, pineapple belongs on pizza!) was well-balanced and had just enough kick to make you know that you're eating on The Rock. There's pepperoni and then there's La Pizzeria's pepperoni. Put it this way, your eyes will open wide and all the instances in your life when you consumed sub-par pepperoni will flash before your eyes. You'll have your own Damascene conversion and appreciate that you're now on the straight and narrow. The Jamaican pizza with its ackee and callaloo is seriously good. Hot tip: add jerk chicken to it.
Managing directors Tarquinio Caldarelli and Gloria Palomino have a friendly, accommodating and well-trained staff. If you have a large group, don't worry as, according to Caldarelli, “we have enough seating for 200”. If you're dining with a group, order the “pizza-by-the-yard.” It's the equivalent of three large pizzas and is rolled into a yard-long rectangle. When finished, it is cut into either 24 or 32 squares. Can't decide between Hawaiian, capricciosa or Jamaican? Not to worry. It has six different 'zones' — perfect for the indecisive diners in your group.
You're at Devon House. You know what to do!
The meal was well-paced and not heavy. So after a couple episodes of our favourite show on Netflix Thursday Food is feeling a little peckish. We're glad that we grabbed a couple Bad Dawg Sausages.
Upon entering Devon House off Waterloo Road, Bad Dawg is located in a kiosk just left of the security barrier. The sausages burst with savoury meaty goodness and can be topped with mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, pickle relish, Scotch bonnet pepper sauce and shredded cheddar cheese. The buns are pillowy and the service is quick and efficient. Sausages are well-priced at $300 each and hours later, they still tasted very good. We're glad that we took home a late-night snack. You'll be too.