Chef-owner Nigel Jones of Oakland’s Kingston 11 is a major force in the Bay Area’s Caribbean food scene. So what happens when he partners with a culinary giant, Daniel Patterson, of the two Michelin-starred Coi?

They opened Kaya, a modern Jamaican restaurant and rum bar in San Francisco’s mid-Market theater direct, in the space formerly occupied by Alta CA. We gave the new restaurant, which is named after a Bob Marley and the Wailers album, a few weeks to get its bearings before we swept in. Here’s what we found inside.

The vibe: The 2,300-square-foot-space has an understated Caribbean feel, with white walls and a gray ceiling offset by hanging plants and a turquoise-stained panel below the bar. Vintage Jamaican movies, including footage of old Bob Marley concerts, are projected on the main wall. You’ll also see artwork from Caiphus Moore, an Oakland artist from Trinidad. Servers are friendly and dressed in tropical shirts, but overall, don’t expect a bright or upbeat setting. Kaya is dark and moody, even sexy.

The food: The majority of Small Eats ($9-$17) are the same as those served at Kingston 11, down to their accompaniments, including Salt Fish Fritters ($13) with chimichurri and Fried Plantains ($9) with black bean sauce and sour cream. Even the Caramelized Carrots ($12) with pomegranate molasses, tamarind-glazed Grilled Wild Gulf Shrimp ($17) and Sauteed String Beans ($11) with Thai chili sauce are the same. The latter is delicious, by the way, spicy with a perfect snap.

Big Eats ($19-$29) include more Kingston classics, like Oxtail Stew ($25) and Curried Vegetables ($19), plus two new dishes: Piri Piri Chicken ($24) and Black Pepper Crab ($28). Our favorite dish was Mary’s Organic Jerk Chicken ($24), which has that deep spicy flavor that comes from lots of dry rub and slow smoking. Cool down your mouth with house-made soft-serve ice cream, an Alta tradition, with flavors that are totally Caribbean. On our visit, they swirled spiced vanilla with habañero chocolate and topped it with mango and lime ($6). Now that’s a collaboration.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News

      

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First Look: San Francisco’s new Jamaican rum bar with Michelin cred

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