A Gastronomic Travel to Jamaica's Restaurants

I certainly believe that a restaurant experience is made of quality food, quality ingredients, ambiance and service. Who does not enjoy a meal better when your palate is spoiled with the most delicious flavours, the freshness of the ingredients used in the preparation and, first and foremost, the service provided by the staff that works at that place? I am sure that you will be nodding a yes to this question... it is true! A culinary experience is COMPLETE only when those factors converge. Otherwise, there is something missing.

The idea behind this Blog is to start on a blank slate... let me say that I want to give a new opportunity to Jamaica's gastronomic scene... and I want to try it because it has grown and I am happy to see how new places appear and old place get a facelift!

However, this is not a one man's show... I want the help and recommendations of readers who, like me, enjoy the eating out experience. I'll be reporting on what I taste, smell, see and, particularly, on the way I am treated as a paying customer... we cannot forget that we are talking about money and we want QUALITY.


A new LOUNGE in town!

The latest vogue in bars and restaurants is what people are calling a lounge. What defines a lounge bar or cafe is the type of ambiance provided by the seating arrangement and style and, of course, the music.

Lounge music ranges from beautiful instrumentals to modern electronica: chillout or downtempo. Despite the style, this music always maintains its focus on retro-space-age cultural elements.

Lounge music is a form of mood music, intended to create the feeling of another place such as a jungle, an island paradise, or even space.

This new trend of cafes and bars is present in most capital cities and it’s been around for quite a while. It was time that Kingston had its own lounge bar and this was recently inaugurated at the MarketPlace last week under the name of Fiction Lounge/Bar.

The first sensation that you get when you enter Fiction is the same that you can feel when you set your foot in a bar of these sorts in Europe, the States or even in big citiess in Latin America. But Fiction is really arty-crafty. Wide lounge filled with blown out luxury pictures, white sculptures, private booths, two bars, stylish stools and tables and even an elaborate tapas menu. No soul.

It's visible that the owners really made their research and you feel it in the cool vibe to it.

Nevertheless, there are some details that they need to pay attention to. Lounge bars and cafes are defined by their style. Although Fiction décor is eclectic, their leitmotiv is missing and this makes this bar extremely pretentious, which can be judged by their cover charge of $1,000.

Do not get me wrong. I do not want to say that it is bad to be pretentious. I just want to make clear that it is bad to be pretentious and not be up to par.

The waiters are misinformed about their menu selection and neither are they able to explain nor to pronounce what it’s written on those booklets. Poor things the menu is in itself very confusing.

Since you are starting, get people interested in your lounge by charging a lesser cover. It could be kind of a Christmas offer or even better, include a drink with such cover. Welcome drinks are always nice baits!

Your bartenders can create a drink bearing your name…what about that!

But my critique wants to deal with the food. I tried it. Food is great. Albeit a little bit too pricey for what you can get, again pretentious, flavours are very well organised and thought of.

I would have made them all bite sizes… this is a lounge not a restaurant! It is very uncomfortable to eat this kind of food in the lounge seats.

My friends of Fiction, the more you promote your place and make of this an experience for the customer, the more successful you will be to make out of your name a brand of style in the city.

So far, it seems a little bit improvised. Let me say that paying a thousand dollars for listening to the audition of a DJ does not cut it for me. It was not a GREAT experience.

My dear blog readers, if you go to Fiction, pay attention to these details and let me, and them, know. In terms of the food, try everything, because their chef is doing a great job in that kitchen. She should rethink size portions… that’s all!

A piece of advice to you, customer, do not eat on the lounge seats! Ask for a table.

I want to take advantage of this post to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

My best wishes to you all!

Keep on eating!


Annie Paul said...

hey i was glad to read this...ever since i heard that something calling itself a lounge and going by the really brilliant name of Fiction had come to town i've been wanting to check it out--

now i won't. i'm thinking of ways to trim my pocket not extend credit to new saloons which should be wooing me not taxing me. GLOBAL R-E-C-E-S-S-I-O-N. someone break it to the Fiction posse.

Olint was only the beginning...with financial institutions going down left, right and centre i'll be watching to see where Fiction is a year from now...i could be wrong but--let's see.

in the meantime i'll stick to what i know and like...Christopher's ahoy!

Anonymous said...

Dear Jamaica Gourmet....first of all i want to thank you personally for your job and what you want to achieve....but i think...i just think... that even though this is something jamaica really needed...i feel like you are sometimes (most of the times) a little bit too hard with your criticisms...i am not jamaican but i live here since 2004 and i have lived all over jamaica, and i love food and of course good places, and i have felt frustrated many times at restaurants, sometimes the food..sometimes the service, sometimes the price, and i was really excited about jamaica gourmet, but..boyy..give them a break..lately every time i get a message from you i think it twice before a open it..because i KNOW from before i open it..what its going to be about..pure criticisms...and just every now and then...a good phrase..."just every now and then"...jamaica its small..and because of that not matter where you live you hear about what is going on..around the island,so when i hear there is a new place to go to...i get excited..looking forward to check it out..but you dont even let a place or event to settle down to kill the desire of visiting it...and that its just sad...when i just got to jamaica...the first year i REALLY REALLY FELT FRUSTRATED with what i found in terms of food (not talking about jamaican food...i love it :) ) but in terms of restaurants and so on...but i have to say over the time i've been here, i notice that jamaica, specially Kingston is pulling up to get better and better, and people has started to relize that we can get lovely things in little Jamaica other than good music, and my friend that is how a country or a city gets bigger and bigger and tourism around the world starts watching out...but that doesnt happen over night..it takes time, and for people who has the money to open a restaurant or actually keep the one they already have in Jamaica, would be easier to go to USA and eat whatever they want every time they feel for it, but instead they are actually thinking on either keeping what is already here or opening new spots with new concepts, because they want this country to be a 100% place to go to,but...i dont know you...but i do know...a food or drink business is not easy, and once again it takes time to get to the great point where you and the costumers would feel very happy (its never totally happy, so please...dont kill the vibe like that, you should have times where you go around to just talk only the good things about a place...criticisms are good but many times we all just feel is important to be pointed for good reasons as well...that can make a good change too...as well to stop being a leader of bad things, because we all know...unfortunately...we tend to follow that, just keep it up but wear the owners shoes sometimes, and remember just remember the bad things are the ones that usually remain in our heads...for instance...im going next week to Kingston and i dont feel for checking out this new place again.. :(,i have agreed many times with you when you talked about old classic places, because hell yes they thought that for ever we would have had to go to their places because there are no more to go to,and some of them took advantage of that or just laid back,so for them i hi5 you,but be a good leader, help Jamaica to improve, but dont forget, to be a good leader you must fall many times as well...still thank you very much...just think about it...ahead from what you like, expect or want...bye

Anonymous said...

Funny... I thought it was called "Friction"...

Jamaica Gourmet said...

Anonymous 1,

Thanks for your message. I really appreciate your comments.

Maybe my tone did not convey it properly, but I was very excited when I heard about Fiction and I am excited about the new places that have sprung in the city.

In times of changes... it's good to have something new for a change.

My conflict is with the product coherence.

If you want to charge $1000 for your cover, you MUST make this an experience for the customer... and I believe that the latter is put on a second place when flaws show too much.

My post just threw some pointers at my friends from Fiction and I am asking other customers to check it out and share their experiences.

I would really appreciate it if you go and give me your point of view.

I have mixed feelings about this place because of the little details that I observed and my experience, but I let my content see through because it is another alternative.


Why should we settle for less of what we deserve?

Why should we not get our money worth?

In one of my visits, the place was empty and they were auditioning DJ's and we were still charged for that... don’t you find it disappointing?

Anonymous said...

Hello! I have twice been in “Fiction” (or “Friction”). The first time cheers to much when finding a new place to me in this city where to go (one ends up repeating thousand times the places until the fatigue until no longer you want to return) and second because to first impression they presented/displayed a new concept. The first time it is enchanted, music was brilliant, the excellent attention. But the second time really was one not very good experience. Like your, dear Jamaica Gourmet, I was the day of famous hearing of Dj' s there (perhaps we crossed, jejeje). It was really a torment. I do not have anything in against of jamaican music, nothing against reggae or Dancehall. But it hoped that “Fiction” delighted to us with another type of music, more international, more lounge. I believe that Kingston already has sufficient places dedicated to this style of music and is times that are necessary to listen to other things. Another thing, I believe that either it was not of good taste to receive fee of entrance to go to listen to hearing. That would have to solve it the owners at another moment. I believe that to the premises still him lack to define its own style. The attention is excellent, although the prices of the food were to me excessive, to the equal one that the size of the portions. Similarly they would have to train better or to familiarize to the waiters with the menu; some do not know very well what there it says. I also take advantage of the occasion to wish you a Merry Christmas.

Crunchy Clown

mad architect said...

I am a formally trained architect, so I guess that's the only thing I should comment on. The place is beautiful, particularly for someone looking to escape the convention, and contrary to what JG said - this place does have soul. Its not homely, but best believe it does have a soul. The environment has an Asian fusion and it comes across in the smallest details (by the way, the image you used isn't Fiction). Props to Zuar!

It was the first time in a while that I felt I got dressed up for something. But the space did that nothing else...sadly.

In many ways Fiction is a club, pretending to be a lounge. A lounge doesn't need to have a cover, nor do you need as many waitress as they had standing up near attacking the patrons.

For a special night on the town with friends, Fiction gets a pass otherwise no

I have to say but the truest in the sense of a lounge was the now close Up on the Roof in New Kingston, sadly it will be missed

Anonymous said...

I have been to Fiction on 2 occassions and it is disappointing that it has turned out to be a regular nightclub and not a'LOUNGE' that it was advertised to be...
First of all, the music is HORRENDOUS. The DJ obviously thought he was playing at a SPARKLES reunion and was not informed of the type of music a lounge is supposed to play!!! The music is one of the MOST important factors that sets the theme and ambience of any establishment.
A cover charge of $1000?? What for?? What about giving a drink ticket or 2 since your trying to bring people in and not turn then away. The half an hour it takes to get a drink is ridiculous. Then you have the bartenders that are boring in front of you to order drinks for the VIP's or other patrons.
Also what is the point of the VIP?? Should they not have their own bar or own room to stay in. Who wants to be hitched up on the side of the club in a little cubicle and then your on the dance floor hanging out with the "regular people". In my opinion the Johnnie Walker room should be the VIP room which hasd its own bar. The main bar it also placed in a corner of the club and it not accessible from all sides. In addition the employees do not seem to be aware of the setting they are in. If your going to be so pricey and "frou frou" then the employees need to portray that. I was further turned off with the 10year old patrons in the club.
They also have the dancefloor that takes up about 3/4 of the space and then it becomes the walk way which your getting bounced around by the bar back or the waiter trying to balnace the tray and the patron that is fighting to get to the bar...literally. Not to mention the "DISCO LIGHT" track that blinds you ever so often and this is a "LOUNGE"!!
But listen I really congratulate the owners for taking on this venture but you 'cant be everything to everybody', you need to decide on what you are and do it...that's the only way we can develop nightime options and introduce the public to the varieties out there.

Anonymous said...

hahaha...yup i am definitely not going!!!!

mattyross said...

your main criticisms were for the cover charge on entering a 'lounge'...the $1000 is required after 9:30-10pm ... which is when it really transforms into a vibrant banging club vibe...you enter free of cost anytime before 10pm...and thereafter the space transforms into a functional club environment

this is clever as the space can be labeled both a lounge/bar or a club. The drinks cost are on par with most places around kingston, maybe slightly more expensive than some, but that's expected in a place that has played extreme attention to detail in designing and putting together a class and not cheap environment...these drinks prices are however extremely cheap compared to florida or the rest of the world.

my brother recently came down from being in florida for 3 years...we went to fiction...had a great time...bout about 20 drinks...and he woke up the next morning in a panic worrying about how much he had spent on drinks...logged on to his bank of america online account and was astonished at how little he had spent...
i think many people coming from outside jamaica expect to be paying much more because of the type of environment fiction provides, and i think tribute should be given to the designers and directors of Fiction as its costs are on par with similar spots in town, yet provide a much classier experience...

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