I first heard of Jamtown one day when walking in the rain in Manly and having a shit time – I saw this colourful looking venue with the best “opening hours” sign of all time (see the last pic in the article) and as soon as I got home I wrote it on the review list. I added them on Instagram (@jamtownmanlybeach) and they followed me back and are regular “likers” of the Spooning pics. Well last night, finally, I got to dine there and took my parents. I am all for this kind of venue, screw your fine dining that costs $700 for a brussels sprout, give me something made for the love of it and the taste of it, less about the art of it. But I was worried what the parents would think, would it be too Manly and youthful for them? Being a Jamaican rum and food bar would I have to sit through a night of “why are we hear Jason?” Haha. Instead we all had one of the best meals ever eaten in Manly and no word of a lie, Jamtown is now easily my fave food venue in Manly.
Sugar Lounge and Miss Marley’s joint owners Kieran Bailey and Matt Poyntz shut down their successful Miss Marley’s and reopened the venue as a Jamaican beach shack, introducing a little piece of the Caribbean to the northern beaches. It is a stroke of pure genius as far as I am concerned, there are exactly four Jamaican restaurants in Sydney including Jamtown – a total of FOUR!! And it’s Jamaica man, it comes with RUM!! In comparison there are about two hundred Mexican restaurants, the popular venue of the now, especially with Chica Bonita around the corner, my previous Manly fave venue (best fish tacos EVER). After last night’s experience the sheen is gone for Chica because the Jamaicans are here.
The venue is pure beach shack and oh so funky, it is a small venue and speaking to the manager last night I was suggesting they turn Sugar Lounge into giant Jamtown but I get the point of her response, here they can keep it fun and funky and quirky, with DJs spinning discs on weekend nights, a friend also said they play limbo. It got packed and the crowd was well mixed; romantic couples, elder ladies, me and the parents and a family with kids. It was completely void of the pretentiousness noted in some venues in Manly and Bondi and was so relaxed, it was an ideal place to take the parents, drink some beers, or in mum’s case (above) a run cocktail in a coconut, you should have seen her destroy the coconut afterwards with a spoon.
The menu is traditional Jamaican beach food and we indulged in as much as we could. We started with a bowl of plantain chips with mango and hot peppa salsa for $6- these were amazing, so perfectly cut and thin you could nearly see through them. They are beautifully seasoned and crispy and I could not get enough of them – would buy bags of them for home if I could.
From their “small tings” section we also ate Salt Fish Fritters with thyme and allspice vinaigrette $11-. We finished them off but we all found them overly floury/ battery and it detracted from the fish inside. However the Smoke and Fried Wings with Smoked Habanero and Molasses sauce $12- had us fighting over the last one and this was easily mum’s favourite dish as she is not a huge fan of very spicy food, whereas Mike and I can live on it. My one suggestion with these small ting’s dishes is the sauce bowls, I found them too small and used a knife to put sauce on the item about to be inhaled, was difficult to dip into.
After mum realised how much food we were about to eat she settled on a final small ting’s dish for her main, the Montego Bay Prawns with Mango Salsa and Jerk Mayo $16- she and we LOVED this dish, so deliciously tasty, although I think the spice on them confused mum when she decided to taste mine and Mike’s dishes, she couldn’t work out whether she was still recovering from spice overload or whether her dish was also spicy. She had to have breathing time out hahaha.
Then came the mains, below is Mike’s Curry Goat – Jamaican curry mix with hot peppa’s with rice ‘n peas $19-. Mike enjoyed it as did I. Mike did think it could have been a lot hotter and he did not like the beans in the rice, not sure if Jamaican peas is a bean? Probably traditional but this is only a personal preference gripe. The heat in it was good for me and I found it much milder than my dish……………..
Easily the best dish I have eaten in Manly, a dish I will remember forever and eat over and over again on every visit. The Boston Bay Pork Jerk with house slaw $19- blew my mind and taste buds. All their jerk marinades are made in-house, as is pretty much everything on the menu. It was divine and tell apart like butter. For some bites I had to mix it with the slaw to cool the biting chilli heat from it but OMG I applaud this dish! I am too scared to order the jerk chicken on following visits incase it can’t compare to the pork.
So for our scores, which we debated on the way home.
Mum – 4 spoons – too hot for her (personal choice) and we believe they worked out I was a blogger/ reviewer half way through the meal and after that point I got all the venue’s attention and mum was ignored :).
Mike – 4 spoons – he disliked the beans in the rice (personal choice) and thought the goat curry could have been hotter.
Me – 4.5 spoons – best food in Manly – HOLY SHIT THAT JERK PORK!!!! I LOVE THEE!!!!
If going to Jamtown the chicken wings and plantain chips are an absolute must and I would be torn to order anything other than that perfect pork jerk but while I am not a fan of whole fish the Fish Escovitch sounds amazing. Oh and drinks – lots of cocktails and they also had some amazing beers I indulged in. If you want a wee boogey stay later but GET THERE EARLY FOR DINNER or no tables and if they have limbo on your visit I want to see photos!!
The best compliment I can give the place is that it’s the best food venue in Manly :).