What a wonderful weekend of eating it has been! I am well and truly stuffed and cannot wait to tell you about the delights I've had. It all started on Friday night - well, that is typically when the weekend begins - when me and the girls took ourselves to a favourtite haunt of ours in Brixton. Negril serves genuine Jamaican/Carribean fodder that will make you smile and smile. But it's not just the food that is the attraction, for me, anyway. As with any great restaurant that you want to return to time and again, it is the ambience, the people who frequent it and of course the staff that make it stand out from other places. It always amazes me how much restauranteurs underestimate the environment in which their food is served. However, in saying that, if anyone tried to recreate the vibe found in Negril they would simply fail because this is not something you can manufacture. There's nothing contrived about this little bolthole and that goes for the food too.
I'm one of those really annoying people that always orders their same favourite thing on the menu. It's not something I'm proud of but there is reasoning behind the theory. You see, I know that said restaurant/cafe/diner serves said dish well and I always thorougly enjoy it. So why would I take the risk of ordering something unfamilar and risk it being just not quite as good as my usual order? When it comes to Negril, that said dish is their coconut, chill prawns. Sounds good, doesn't it? So I was a little thrown on Friday night when I discovered a new addition on their menu......curry goat! It caught my eye, made me do a double take and made me reconsider ordering those heavenly prawns. I ummed and ahhed but eventually gave into instinct - I'm never too far wrong if I go with my gut and never is your gut more important than when you're deciding what to put in it.
Now, I should explain at this stage that Negril is very popular, particularly at the weekend. Add to that the fact they have to cope with delivery orders and it's a family/friend run affair and the fact that they may be on Jamaican time (I'm very familiar with this being Irish myself) and you'll understand that the service is somewhat relaxed. Although our watiress seemed slightly less than relaxed, as she was basically waiting most of the tables in the restaurant. Usually when waiting staff are under pressure their friendly exterior cracks but not in Negril.
The waitress that normally deals with us is actually the proprietor but tonight she is cook, although at the end of the evening she did make an appearance to say hello to her guests - would you find that anywhere else? I think not! And when I say guests I mean it because the atmosphere is so welcoming it almost feels as if you're having dinner at a friend's house. I'm sure this is a major contributing factor in why the food tastes as good as it does.
When the food eventually arrived we were all a bit merry from the wine we had brought with us (yep, it's BYOB and corkage fee is 2.50 - bargain!). My taste buds were still in full working order, however, and the first bite of those tender pieces of stewed meat melted in my mouth like none that I've had for a very long while. The curry was mild but deep and flavoursome and I used the roti bread to make myself little bit-sized wraps. Other delights on offer where the always lovely rice and peas - I can't quite remember whether they were gungo or black-eyed peas (must've been the wine) but I do know I prefer them to kidney beans . The festival(like a savoury doughnut) is always a winner, as is the coleslaw but the star of side-show (get it!) has to be the fried plaintain. My goodness they are beyond lip-smaking, fried to perfection, morsels of greatness that have to be eaten to be believed. All the girls enjoyed their choices, amongst them seabass, coconut chilli prawns and chicken but I have a feeling there were more than a few envious eyes on my goat:)
They've rennovated since the last time I'd been so they can fit considerably more diners in now but without compromising the intimacy. The only disappointment was the toilet, which used to have cuttings from magazines plastered over the walls for some light reading whilst on the loo:) Gone too was a sign that urged you to not spend too much time in there, as someone could be waiting outside; this always tickled me. I'll forgive them this one tiny thing though.
Finally, the price. Put it this way, reasonable would be putting it lightly. For the quality and quantity you recieve it is downright outrageously good value for money. Everyone agreed it was the best Negril we'd ever had but I have a feeling there is much more where that came from, which is why I'll be going back again and hopefully again.
For details of the location of Negril please click on the link below.
p.s. I was having such an awesome time I forgot to take any photos. Apologies!