A restaurant with the heart, soul and flavor of Jamaica is what Melissa Dukharan-Constantine is aiming for at the newly opened 8 Spices Restaurant and Bar.
The Jamaican inspiration is evident as soon as you enter. Red, green and yellow lights, a Jamaican flag painted above the bar, and Jamaican-made art pieces strategically placed throughout the establishment. However, the most fascinating piece is the bar's countertop covered with Jamaican 10-cent coins.
Having her own restaurant had always been on the top of Dukharan-Constantine's list. One that is truly Jamaican was crucial.
"I saw the need for a Jamaican-inspired and infused restaurant. Working in the industry for some time, I wanted to start something for myself, show creativity. Food is my art and when you come to 8 Spices, you are taking part in my creation," she told Food.
Her love for Jamaica is evident in her food, hence the name 8 Spices. These are based on the eight signature seasoning in her jerk dishes. But jerked chicken and pork are not the only Jamaican-inspired items on her menu. She also infuses Jamaican flavors into dishes that might not be Jamaican.
One such dish is her sweet Scotch bonnet pasta that is served with chicken or pork, or as a vegetarian dish.
"We have the best pepper. Scotch bonnet is not only spicy, but it adds a flavor to your food that you cannot get from any other pepper," she told Food. That it does. The pasta is flavorful and does seem to be a perfect Jamaican-Italian fusion.
There is also the pimento-crusted cheese sticks served with a Scotch bonnet sauce. And knowing how Jamaicans love their rum, Dukharan-Constantine wanted to show that there are fun ways to consume it, and that gave birth to her rum barbecued wings. The menu is filled with appetizers, main courses and dessert for all to enjoy, meat lovers and vegetarians alike, all infused with authentic Jamaican flavor.