Jamaica native brings island flavor to downtown Mount Dora.

Jamaica native brings island flavor to downtown Mount Dora.

 Joan Reidenbaugh believes her new restaurant, Jamaica Gardens, has just what it takes to break the curse of their downtown Mount Dora location, by bringing in some Jamaican flavor.

“I’ve been told the building is cursed because many restaurants come and go,” she said. “But that was before us. It’s was time to bring some Jamaican spice to this place.”

A chef by heart, Reidenbaugh grew up in Jamaica and pursued a career in restaurant management. After 20 years of managing, she decided to venture out and open her first restaurant in Longwood and now Mount Dora.

“My recipes really draw from the traditional way of cooking in Jamaica,” she said. “It’s my heritage and my goal is to open 50 of them throughout the U.S.”

The menu begins with Jamaican appetizers including beef patties, coconut shrimp, jerk wings, conch fritters, fried dumplings, ackee and saltfish quiche.

Two of the most popular items are jerk chicken and jerk pork, which is marinated in their homemade jerk seasoning and grilled until tender and juicy. It is served with fried dumplings, rice and peas for $12.99 to $13.50.

Their seafood selections include steamed fish with okra for $10.99, curried shrimp for $13.99 and escovitch fish, a whole snapper seasoned, fried and topped with escovitch sauce for $16.99.

Other popular entrees include curried chicken, jerk chicken tacos, oxtail and beans, curried goat and a jerk burger.

Traditional soups like Mannish water (goat soup), red peas soup and chicken soup with dumplings are offered for $4.99 a cup or $7.99 a bowl.

Desserts top off the menu with volcano cake, authentic Jamaican-style black cake and Jamaican sweet potato pudding.

Lunch specials run weekdays until 3 p.m. and happy hour is Monday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

In order to make it feel more like a Jamaican getaway, Reidenbaugh brought in sand and created a beach front. People can sit and relax while listening to live Reggae music Friday and Saturday nights from 7:30 p.m. to midnight.

Jamaica Gardens, 322 N Alexander St. in Mount Dora, is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.


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15 Dec 2018

By Joan Reidenbaugh