FOURTEEN Queens Drive in Montego Bay is a spot that has a long history of serving up good food. Years ago it housed the very popular Boston Jerk, and more recently it was the venue for Sabrina’s Kitchen & Cocktails. Now, Chilling and Grilling is the latest eatery to open on the “Top Road” location that offers a sea view, an inviting pool and good vibes all week long.
Open since late July, Chilling & Grilling is already making a name for itself. Its reputation is linked to the legendary seafood cooking skills of co-owner Bryan “Black Chiney” Hosue. He’s been known to whip up meals in friends’ kitchens when they invite him over for a party. Now he’s putting his culinary skills into growing his own business.
“I cook on a Friday night, [that’s] seafood night where we do a lot of fish and lobster and all of that. I get down and dirty. That’s my thing. We do a lot of crab so on Saturday I’ll do all-you-can-eat crab. I cook the crab. I’m known for the garlic crab in Montego Bay,” he says with more than just a touch of hubris.
He’s very clear on what gives his crab dishes the edge over any competition.
“We use land crabs, not the regular sea crabs, and we add our little spice to it and it really turns out fabulous so people tend to just love it,” says Hosue. “We used to do a crab party many years ago in Savanna-la-Mar, with a friend of mine, that we used to call Busha’s crab party. We used to cook and people just loved our cooking.”
It can get a bit busy at Chilling & Grilling, especially when a bus load of cruise passengers shows up, so the cooking isn’t all up to him. He has two chefs in the kitchen, and his team is rounded out by four waitresses and a scullion.
“Our busiest, I would say, is on a Friday night — we have seafood galore. We do our two-for-one on lobster, we have our fried fish and bammy, shrimp and conch — the whole nine yards — so everybody come and just eat,” says Hosue.
All dishes are served up with a choice of sides that include bammy, festival, pressed plantain and more. These go very well with his escovitch fish.
Hosue knows any decent Jamaican restaurant has to serve chicken and rice and peas to survive, because that’s the go-to dish for many customers. The menu is rounded out by oxtail and succulent roast pork that just falls off the bone. But he set out to open a seafood restaurant because he felt that’s what was missing from Montego Bay’s vibrant culinary scene.
“You’d have to drive outside, on the outskirts [to get seafood] so we said let’s create something a little closer and see what would happen,” he explains. “The atmosphere is very relaxing so you end up chilling.”
He’s right. The venue just has a vibe that makes you want to stay a while. Wood and thatch is a consistent theme in the décor, complemented by lamp shades made from wine bottles, and mason jars hanging from the roof by sturdy rope. Comfy cushions thoughtfully placed on the seats of chairs made from wine barrels add an authentic touch and complement matching wooden tables. A few steps away from the well-stocked bar is an inviting pool, the centrepiece for Sunday night parties.
There are fun things to do on other days of the week. On Tuesday nights there’s karaoke. Thursday is games night, an opportunity for patrons to enjoy friendly banter as they compete at backgammon or dominoes.
Hosue is convinced the venue has a little something for everyone and he’s very clear on why it’s worth a visit.
“Because of the good food, ambience, great staff and plus — me,” he says with a huge grin.
Location: 14 Queens Drive, Montego Bay
Prices: Chicken $1,200; fish $2,500 per pound; two-for-one lobster special $4,000
Recommended dishes: Garlic shrimp; Roast pork
Coming soon: A seafood gumbo that Hosue promises will be the talk of the town
Opening hours: 10 am – 10 pm