The first time I went to Reggae Shack Café was about a year ago. My friend Kym, a pescatarian and fellow veggie lover, was visiting and we were feeling adventurous – and hungry. Neither of us was sure what vegetarian Jamaican cuisine would taste like but the restaurant’s ads promised great food. The ads lived up to their hype and since that day I was hooked. Sadly, Dan wasn’t quite as daring in his food as he is now and I hadn’t been in months. The other day I realized we would be attending an event pretty near the restaurant, I convinced Dan to go, and two of our friends joined us as well.
Reggae Shack’s interior isn’t much to write home about. It’s a little dark (fortunately we were near the window), the air smells smoky from the cooking, and it’s warm inside. Your food will take a while to cook, so be prepared to relax and wait, maybe have an aloe vera drink, a beer or a smoothie.
Let me tell you, the wait is worth it. First off, anything on the menu that says vegetarian is “100% vegan”. And you aren’t limited to one or two items. There are about 20 meals to choose from! How often will you get that many options as a vegan? Every meal is served with a heaping portion of steamed cabbage, rice and peas (which is white rice and red kidney beans) and two plantains. You get A LOT of food.
As for taste, it’s unique and your taste buds will dance around with glee. I had previously tried the Escoviech Tofu (sweet and spicy awesomeness), but this time I ordered the Curry Tempeh and my husband, the very new to any veggie vegan, had the Vegan Steak.
The Curry Tempeh: “locally made, organic tempeh crumbled & cooked in our savory Jamaican curry sauce”. It is spicy but not overly so. The rice and cabbage is a nice complement to the spice. And how good was it? Look at my before and after plate, you can tell how much I loved it.
And Dan was wowed by the Vegan Steak! He was hesitant but game to try it and now is thinking of having it for his graduation meal. The Steak: “handmade seitan simmered in a sweet Caribbean sauce w/vegetables (carrots from what I could tell)”. This dish is sweet, not spicy. It really has a meaty texture to it which Dan found satisfying.
By the way, our friends who dined with us had the Jerk Chicken Salad (the “jerk” is super spicy, consider yourself warned) and the Oxtail and loved their dishes as well. So bring your meat-eating friends! There’s something for everyone.
After all the food, I was beyond full. But wait… vegan desserts? Unfortunately they were out of both the vegan coconut cake and vegan carrot cake. However, they did have a special that day: vegan lemon cheesecake with a strawberry topping. Actually, it’s vegan, gluten-free and raw. I ordered it to go since I wanted to try but was just too full to have it then. I don’t know how they made a vegan cheesecake, but this thing was amazing! It had a rich flavor just like real cheesecake and the lemon and strawberry together was sublime. The dessert made it back to my house, but not to the next day
Ratings from a plant-based eating perspective (1-5 scale, 1=Terrible 5=Excellent)
Ambiance: 3 Service: 3 Choices: 5 Taste: 5 Overall: 5
We did in fact have Reggae Shack cater Dan’s graduation party. The manager, Arpita, was helpful and easy to work with. I decided to pick the food up since we were close to the restaurant. It was ready right on time and the staff was helpful in carrying the meals out to my car.
We had jerk chicken, caribbean chicken, vegan steak and curry tempeh with the sides. We had plenty of food for our group, but if you are worried about running out of something it would be the fried plantains – we only had a couple left at the end of the night. All of the food got rave reviews from everyone and several omnivores commented on how good the vegan items were. I do need to point out that I didn’t know the vegan steak had so much oil in it until seeing it in the big catering pan.
For dessert, we had a vegan coconut cake. Wow! It was fantastic. Definitely not healthy and loaded with sugar but it sure was tasty. It would easily serve a party of 25-30 since not everyone wants cake or several people want “just a small piece”.