A Taste Of Jamaica With A Little Reggae

You know it's a great weekend when good music and spectacular food are involved. Bahama Breeze recently invited us in to their restaurant for a complimentary dining experience that was above and beyond what I could have ever expected. Why is that? Because we had a front row seat to Reggae Fest and food so flavor-packed you had to be crazy to not like anything. Reggae Fest at Bahama Breeze is sadly over now but they do have Rumtoberfest coming up September 21st - November 8th which you bet I will be returning for and not just because rum is my favorite type of hard liquor.

Bahama Breeze is a restaurant with Caribbean inspired food, tropical drinks and an island atmosphere that will make you feel like you're on vacation. My friend Anya and I mentioned several times how we truly felt like we were on vacation somewhere. It's a tropical experience in the suburbs of Chicago (for my location at least). The staff was accommodating, well-informed about everything on the menu and made sure that we had the best experience possible. Reggae Fest kicked off in July celebrating Reggae Day on July 1st. Each Saturday night featured live music giving the restaurant a genuine Jamaican vibe, especially once the food was served. Check it out:

One Love Cocktail: I wasn't even at my table yet before being greeted with a cocktail. There are two things I love in a cocktail: rum and pineapple both separate and together. This drink had both. It consists of Malibu banana rum, pineapple, orange and guava juice shaken together with an Appleton Rum floater and a dehydrated pineapple. PERFECTION. If there was a drink made specifically for me, this would be it. Refreshing, tropical, sweet and tart all at once, it's summer and the taste of the islands in one tall glass.

Curry Goat Bowl: a traditional Caribbean curry made with slow-cooked goat, potatoes, onions and carrots, served over yellow rice with warm Naan Bread or, in our case, plantain chips. This was the first course for us. Normally this would be served as a main dish but we got a taste so that we could save room for the enormous platter that soon followed. This was the second time I've had goat and it was just as delicious as I remembered that last time. Normally I'm not a fan of plantains but these chips were incredible. They complemented the dish as well which was rich and comforting. I'd really like to try and make this at home in the dead of winter. 

Taste of Jamaica: a feast of pulled pork, jerk chicken, beef empanada, callaloo, sweet plantains, yellow rice and black beans. I don't even know where to start. I feel the need to mention, this is an enormous amount of food. It fed me for two more days. The pulled pork was my second favorite item on this platter. It was well-seasoned and tender to the point of melting in your mouth. The jerk chicken was juicy and delicious. I personally love jerk seasoning so they couldn't go wrong there. Normally, this is served as a main dish with half of a chicken to the plate. Thankfully, they split the half chicken between Anya and I ensuring we didn't need to be rolled out of there. The beef empanada was my personal favorite because, well, empanadas. They're one of my favorite types of food and Bahama Breeze did them justice. A crisp shell held together a delicious meat filling with so much flavor I could have died happy right there.

Callaloo is a traditional Caribbean dish made with collard greens or another similar leafy green and wilted down. This wasn't my favorite but it's definitely an easy way to get me eating leafy vegetables. The sweet plantains were fried and almost resembled a dumpling or fried potato of sorts. As I mentioned before, plantains are not normally my thing but for some reason Bahama Breeze turned me into a plantain lover. I've been converted! The yellow rice was also served with the Curry Goat and it's just as you'd expect. I'm a bit obsessed with rice right now so this was right up my alley. Finally, the black beans were served over the rice which was a fantastic combination. I saved these for later to mix with my chicken. It made for a tasty, satisfying lunch. Oh and that little bowl, that's a pineapple or strawberry chutney. I can't remember which one but I can tell you that it was tasty.

Rum Cake: if there is a heaven, it's filled with this scrumptious, delectable sweet. It's made with Bacardi Oakheart Rum, topped with a handmade raisin butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream. Because the rum is not fully cooked out, you have to be 21 to order this but you couldn't taste the alcohol at all. The cake itself was so smooth and velvety, it was as if you were slicing butter. Normally I would scoff at the sight of butterscotch with a gag in the back of my throat but holy cow, I could not get enough of that sauce. The vanilla ice cream tied all the flavors together beautifully. I have made it my personal goal to master rum cake because there is no way I can go without it for so long.

Reggae Fest might be over but these dishes are still available on the regular menu. If you're looking for some weekend shenanigans, Rumtober is starting very soon with the first "Rumbash" kicking off Friday, September 21st returning every Friday until November 8th. Bahama Breeze has locations across the US in 15 states. Visit their website to find one closest to you today.