I am guessing you have seen the bright red awning that now adorns part of the big building in the middle of 5 Corners, since almost everyone passes through Vineyard Haven at some point. Perhaps you’ve wondered about it. Vineyard Caribbean Cuisine? What is it like? What’s the food like?
Well, finally I myself made it to one of the newest foodie additions to downtown. I love the pop of color the red awning gives the space. When you walk in, you are immediately greeted by a great Caribbean inspired mural that is bright and has a lot of soul.
The restaurant is buffet style, with a menu that changes almost daily, and is certainly a lot different from the burgers, pizza, and hot dogs you’ll find on many other menus.
The staff is friendly and was very helpful to this “fish out of water.” The last authentic Caribbean food I ate was jerk chicken in Puerto Rico years ago. So, I was not so sure what to order.
Luckily, co-owner, Newton Waite was in the kitchen and was able to make some recommendations. Boy, what to get? The choices looked pretty interesting, but one thing was a must for Newton, ox tails. Whoa nelly, it was a little early in the day and didn’t have a bit of liquid courage to loosen my food fears, but I took his advice.
As a buffet, there are different options for size and quantity of meats and sides. Of course I went big! I had to get rice and beans, the ox tails, curried chicken, a Caribbean cabbage dish, and to add to my adventure, I got a Jamaican Meat Pie and a little puff pasty type biscuit.
You can enjoy your food at the restaurant, there is counter seating inside and tables outside, but I took mine to go. Had to pick my son from Kindergarten. However, I think I would have stayed otherwise. There was fun, diverse group coming in for lunch.
I wanted to add that Vineyard Caribbean Cuisine has a really different selection of beverages too, including housemade ginger beer. I had to get one of those to try, and take home for a special Dark & Stormy cocktail. With their version, you can really taste the ginger. Add that with a soda water and dark rum and there’s a great rainy night cocktail
So, I started with the rice and beans – delicious. I love this classic dish, and theirs did not disappoint. The curried chiken was OK. The cabbage side, not my favorite. However, I have to admit I liked the ox tails. The sauce was really flavorful, and the meat itself reminded almost of braised short ribs. I was really surprised.
Oh and the Jamaican Meat Pie was really, really good, I have had others on the Island, but I thought this one was awesome. I could definitely get that as a quick grab-and-go lunch again very soon.
The puff biscuit thing was not my favorite either, but I think I should have used it to soak up some of the delicious sauce from the ox tails, but the rice did that for me.
Would I go again? I have to say I would. Also, Newton told me that they also do fried chicken, the best on the Vineyard. However, it’s not everyday and it sells out quickly. I am intrigued by the possibility of this fried chicken, since I do love this comfort food dish. Guess I’ll have to pop in every once in a while.
Newton and partner, Anthony Foster, have been talking about opening a Caribbean restaurant for a number of years. When Newton was working at the Mansion House, so many people would ask him why there wasn’t a Caribbean restaurant on the Island.
In December of 2016, Anthony and Newton started working on making Caribbean cuisine possible on the Island, and in Spring of 2017, they made it a reality.
Many of the recipes are Newton’s, since he is from the Caribbean, and those that have a southern twist are Anthony’s, since he is from the south. Together, they have created a different, fun, tasty menu.
Both are happy with how popular Vineyard Caribbean Cuisine is, and how people come back again and again. They are also happy that the restaurant is year-round. Imagine on those grey Winter days, warming up with some warm and flavorful jerk chicken and rice and beans. Yum!
Vineyard Caribbean Cuisine is open Monday through Friday – 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Saturday – 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Sunday – 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. So, you can get your taste of the Caribbean for lunch and dinner almost everyday of the week.