Downtown denizens have a new place to nosh on curry goat, patties, jerk chicken and other Jamaican delicacies.
Marjorie Barclay opened her restaurant, Hummingbird, on South Warren Street in the former location of Tanya’s B.Y.O.B. The grand opening was held Jan. 25.
Oddly enough, the Reggae Spice Grill Jamaican restaurant is opening soon right across the street, so West Indian food fans will soon have their choice of dining spots for Jamaican fare. Trenton resident Barclay moved to the city in 1989. Before that, she lived in Jamaica and worked at the Airport Authority in Kingston. Since moving to the U.S., Barclay worked as a home health care provider for two elderly patients.
When the two patients died several months apart last year, Barclay decided the time had come to realize her dream of opening a restaurant. With the help of partners Yvette Graffie-Cooper and Norman Francis, she opened the first Jamaican restaurant in the downtown area.
They refitted the interior of Tanya’s BYOB, decking it out in yellows and greens with Jamaican touches, like a Bob Marley poster and the restaurant’s logo itself: the Hummingbird is the country’s national bird.
Jamaican cuisine blends influences from Africa, India, the Americas and native cooking. Some of the specialties are jerk chicken, curry chicken, curry goat, oxtail soup, brown stew chicken, rice and beans and fish soup.
These are all dishes Barclay grew up making.
“I learned to cook as a child,” she said. “I was the oldest of 10, so I cooked even when I was a young kid. It was my dream to own a restaurant. I love food and cooking and watching people enjoy a meal. It’s a passion.”
Barclay said most of the customers so far are state workers on lunch break. Others are locals, including Jamaican immigrants like Barclay. She said Americans are used to the flavors of Jamaican food, since West Indian cuisine is nothing new to the country. “As long as people enjoy the food, it’s good,” she said.
Hummingbird is located at 29 S. Warren Street. For more information, call (609) 278-9555. It is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Reggae, across the street, is still being renovated.