Restaurant: EITS Cafe (Europe in the Summer Cafe)
Last visited: October 6, 2011
Location: Blue Mountains, Jamaica (Near Kingston)
Address: 17 Mile Post Newcastle Road, Irish Town Blue Mountains Jamaica, St Andrew
Price Range: $10-20+USD
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
- Off the beaten track
- On Blue Mountains
- Incredible view
- Father/Daughter operation
- European-Jamaican cuisine
- Popular to tourists
- All vegetables grown on site
- Almost all organic
- Vegetarian friendly
- Meat/Seafood available
- Mount Edge Guest house available
- Reservations: firstname.lastname@example.org
**Recommendations: Tropical Cocktail, Pea & Mint Soup, Callaloo Rice, Carrot Cake
We stopped here on our way down from our visit of the Blue Mountain Coffee coffee bean farm (see here), which is famous for being one of the best coffees in the world. After trying raw coffee beans and enjoying an afternoon “coffeetime” of traditional Jamaican pastries, alongside freshly brewed 100% Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee, it was time for lunch! This was all part of my invitation to explore Jamaica’s culinary scene and it took my definition of “coffee break” and “lunch break” to a whole new level. A much, much higher level.
EITS Cafe, which stands for “Europe in the Summer Cafe”, was our pit stop lunch on Blue Mountain before heading back to the city. It’s definitely off the beaten track and from the outside I would have thought it was a house, not a restaurant.
From a North American perspective it comes across as a little hole in the wall eatery, but in Jamaica it’s not. Although this is technically along the roadside, this is not a roadside diner or shack. EITS Cafe is actually a European influenced Jamaican restaurant and it is considered quite nice. Even if the ambiance isn’t your style, the view is incredible and it’s a unique and affordable mountain top dining experience in Jamaica.
Although I consider it first and foremost a cafe before a guesthouse, it does also operate as the Mount Edge guesthouse. It’s father and daughter operated and owned and they actually live here as well, but the top floor is available for tourists to book. It’s suitable for tourists who are low maintenance, not accustomed to resorts, and those looking for a sense of nature and adventure… you may or may not be an European backpacker or a hippie.
When it comes to farm to table, Jamaica could easily put us to shame. On the other hand how we treat the idea of “farm to table” is very different. In Jamaica, they’ve always been doing it. It’s a country that has relied on its natural resources and surroundings, however in North America it has almost become a new trend in the dining scene, or revived idea of the past. To be fair, it’s a lot easier to provide this experience in Jamaica due to the climate and overall landscape.
It’s also a lot easier when your farm or backyard looks like this!
This is the source for the ingredients at EITS Cafe. It’s literally their backyard. They own acres of this land and grow almost every (legal) herb and a wide range of greens used at their restaurant. The cafe is mostly organic, but not certified organic, although they say they have plans to eventually become certified.
EITS Cafe serves European-Jamaican cuisine and I would say it is frequented by tourists. The food was good and the ingredients were grown in their backyard, but personally I would prefer more Jamaican flavours and it seemed very Westernized. I know that’s their theme, but even so, I was looking for more delivery in the food. In the context of Jamaica, it’s considered a gourmet cafe, but I found the story behind it more interesting than the food. The father and daughter owners of EITS Cafe are incredibly sweet, and even with the tropical showers, the view is something to experience and that is what I appreciated more.
On the table:
- Around $450JMD or $5.20USD
- I don’t remember the exact name for this cocktail but it was made with fresh pineapple juice, passion fruit, ginger and sparkling wine.
- The fruits were naturally sweet and the ginger gave a nice aroma, subtle warmth, but not spice.
- It was almost like a Jamaican Mimosa and it wasn’t too sweet or tart. I loved it!
- Just seeing this photo makes me start to sweat.
- I didn’t see many authentic Jamaican restaurants serving it as a condiment like this, and usually it was just an ingredient in the dish or served as a hot sauce on the side.
- Do yourself a favour and avoid the seeds at all costs, unless you handle “authentic Indian food hot spicy” or “authentic Thai food hot spicy”.
- This is “authentic Jamaican food hot spicy”, but even Jamaicans avoid the seeds and don’t eat them whole.
- The pepper is initially sweet, then in 5 seconds it’s spicy, then it gradually gets spicier and hotter, and by 15 seconds your mouth is burning!
- Do not drink water if you need to kill the spice. Drink milk, eat sugar and never touch your eyes or eat these with your fingers.
- I had a bad experience with them at an authentic Jamaican seafood restaurant – see my post for “Spicy Shrimp” at Prendy’s on the Beach.
- Parmesan Cheese – This was for the salad.
- Smoked Shark – 4/6
- They kept calling it “smoked shark”, but I think it was smoked Marlin.
- When I heard it was “shark” I was pretty “no-no” since I gave up eating shark’s fin years ago, but shark meat was new.
- To be polite I did try it, and I received confirmation from the owners of the restaurant that it was ethically caught from a local fishery.
- It was almost like pounded smoky, salty tuna sashimi but a bit tougher and more fiberous.
- It was my first time trying it and I did really enjoy the flavour.
- Served with organic mixed green salad and house baked bread About $450JMD or $5.20USD
- It was a creamy pea and mint soup made from herbs and vegetables grown in their backyard.
- It reminded me of a lentil soup meets a split pea soup with added carrots and okra, and it was all blended and pureed until creamy and smooth.
- I could taste a hint of mint and a bit of all spice for some warm cinnamon like flavours, and it was peppery, but not spicy.
- It wasn’t sweet for being a pea soup, but more savoury and spiced.
- I found it almost Middle Eastern in flavours, and it was more European than Jamaican, but it was still good.
- An authentic Jamaican soup would be a lot more hearty and the vegetables wouldn’t be pureed.
- Although different, an excellent pea soup in Vancouver is from Market by Jean-Georges – see Sweet Pea Soup.
- It was baked in house in an antique oven and it was very doughy, moist and chewy and almost like half cooked bread.
- It seemed a bit stale, but I’m not sure if that was the style.
- Organic Mixed Green Salad
- The salad was no doubt fresh from their garden, but the leaves just seemed a bit wimpy. They weren’t wilted, but just less developed.
- It was romaine, basil, small tangy cherry tomatoes, and arugula, but arugula in Jamaica tastes different. It was less peppery and very mild.
- It was lightly drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette.
- About $1200JMD or $13.97USD (I’m guessing)
- The chicken is grown on the farm and it was seasoned with rosemary, cilantro, thyme, oregano, two types of parsley and mint which was also grown on the farm.
- I couldn’t really taste all the herbs that went into making the chicken.
- The chicken was fried in olive oil and then steamed, so it resulted in a very flavourful, moist, and juicy chicken skin, but it was also soggy and the meat was drier.
- The pasta was overcooked and a bit bland and it was dressed in a home made arugula pesto, but it just tasted like pureed arugula, garlic and olive oil so it was quite bland.
- I needed to use a lot of Parmesan cheese for the pasta and I just wanted much more sauce and flavour for it.
- There was also some roasted eggplants, bitter green peppers, tiny sauteed mushrooms and organic green salad as a side.
- I appreciated that everything was organic and homegrown, but the vegetables and flavours just seemed under developed.
- About $1400JMD or $16.80USD (I’m guessing)
- I didn’t get to try a prawn, and I doubt that’s grown on the farm…
- The rice on the other hand was delicious! It was one of my favouite rices on the trip.
- I couldn’t really understand the owner’s accent but I think he called it Callaloo Rice. I didn’t see any Callaloo which is a kale like vegetable and it wasn’t the variety of rice either, so I’m not sure what kind of rice it was.
- The rice was extremely nutty, fragrant, firm and aromatic with fried garlic, herbs, toasted sesame seeds and carrots.
- The grains were well toasted, infused with flavour, separate and very well fried yet not oily or greasy.
- They fry the herbs in olive oil first, toast the rice in it, and then add a little chicken stock and leftover water from the boiled carrots to make it.
- It was simple, but there was effort and it was almost like a fried rice meets a pilaf.
- Around $550JMD or $6.36USD
- In all honesty, this is the one item that I would actually go back for and still remember in a couple years.
- The other carrot cake I’ll remember is the Organic Multi Seed Carrot Cake I had at Life Cafe in Hong Kong about a year and a half ago.
- This is one of the best carrot cakes I’ve ever had.
- A carrot cake really isn’t a big deal, but when it’s baked in an antique oven, topped with whole walnuts, and covered in a sweet sticky ooey gooey caramel sauce like a cinnamon bun, it’s memorable.
- It was fresh from the oven, warm, ultra creamy, moist and very heavy and rich and it was a dessert you had to have taken away.
- The caramel sauce was very sugary with a hint of rum and the whole thing tasted like cake batter meets a half baked cake.
- It had some shredded carrots, currants and walnuts, but it was much more of a dessert than a bread.
- It was a full on cake and almost like a bread pudding and it was incredibly decadent and delicious!
- If it was served with ice cream, it would have been even better! And FYI they do serve ice cream.
- It seemed almost fried around the edges, but it wasn’t crispy.
- Along with the Rum Cake at Blue Mountain Coffee, I would take this cake back home to Vancouver, BC with me.
- It’s one of their must try specialties, and I can see why.
- If you’re in Vancouver, this will also do the trick – see Beet and Carrot Cake with Blue cheese cream and candy walnut from The Oakwood Canadian Bistro.