The Courtyard at Marketplace

The Courtyard at Marketplace

Part 1

Thursday, October 29, 2020

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Thursday Food reckons the newly upgraded Marketplace located at 67 Constant Spring Road, sat upon 2.8 acres and now home to 13 restaurants, two specialty food stores, a medical marijuana store, a nightclub and a computer wholesaler, would elicit a wry smile from the late business titan Derrick Mahfood. We were privileged back in 2006 to have front-row seats to the unveiling of the city's first culinary destination. Mahfood, putting his money — a cool $15 million — alongside his vision, not only transformed what was once an old warehouse building into a diner's paradise, but convinced three of the biggest names in the industry at that juncture, notably Habibi Latino, Café Aubergine and Jewel (part of the Passage to India family), to open alongside China Express and East Japanese.

It was revolutionary; it was genius! And he pulled it off to boot! This became the blueprint for the naissance of food courts along the length and breadth of Jamaica.

The recently concluded renovations have transformed the Courtyard at Marketplace into a modern, contemporary but, thankfully, still cosy 34,000-square foot enclave of indoor, semi-enclosed and outdoor dining areas. Two thousand, two hundred square feet of the Courtyard is enclosed by several themed restaurants.

The unique advantage remains of large groups dining al fresco and able to enjoy a variety of menu options from multiple restaurants. Think: Chinese, Thai or Indian fusion fare. A taste of European Jamaican courtesy of Fromage or an array of Middle Eastern offerings from both Beirut and Sham's Bakery.

What's new at Marketplace is a 700-square foot upstairs dining area accessible to Beirut guests that affords both mountain vista and gorgeous sunsets.

The roll-out of restaurants starts today and continues next week.


The Courtyard at Marketplace, 67 Constant Spring Rd, Kingston • Instagram @themarketplaceja

China Express... [@chinaexpressjamaica]

Proprietor Irene Wong says China Express was Marketplace's first tenant and has been serving up freshly prepared authentic Cantonese Chinese cuisine for over 20 years. But as recommended limits on dining continue to tighten in the wake of the coronavirus spread, the popular eatery now operates as a takeout-only restaurant, though on-the-go options can be had in the courtyard.

“Business is okay; I wouldn't say it's great,” says Wong. “Our customers still come in for our takeout options and some even sit in the Courtyard and enjoy their meal,” she continued.

The lunch special is quite popular and the Thursday Food team noted several customers picking up. The special begins at 11:30 am and ends at 4:00 pm, but Wong says you can start placing orders as early as 10:00 am.

Saffron Indian Cuisine [@saffronjamaica]

Saffron Indian Cuisine is an Indian restaurant named after the elite but popular deep red-orange coloured spice, saffron. The eatery has been at the Courtyard at Marketplace since 2012. At Saffron, you will be treated to the distinct smoky taste of grilled food cooked in a tandoor and with authentic curries and a unique blend of spices. The food menu options range from Indian Mughlai to Asian fusion cuisine, and are sure to satisfy diverse palates, including that of vegetarians. And though delivery and takeout options have become the new norm with restaurants, Saffron still allows dining, though at a limited capacity. It's able to do this because of the apt location on the outskirts of the Courtyard. This equips the Indian food spot with a total of three dining areas: Inside the restaurant, the terrace-style set-up, and tables in the Courtyard. It's all a nice arrangement, with kerbside pick-up and deliveries facilitated by personal bearers as well as food delivery companies, Pekkish and Krave. As food options continue to whittle down, Saffron is holding firm and continues to be of service to new and loyal customers in this uncertain time.

Mi Hungry Whol'-Some-Food... [@mihungrynow]

This is a vegan raw food restaurant with menu options that mimic a fast-food model. It is the go-to spot for many vegans in the corporate area and has been at this location since 2009. Mi Hungry — as it is affectionately called — serves everything from pizzas, to burgers, to shakes. You can enjoy local fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, and seeds, plus juices and shakes prepared with cane juice coconut, water, and dates. Meals are prepared without the use of fire. The spot completed renovations midyear, revealing a more spacious area complete with a rustic and artsy dining area that fuses seamlessly with the restaurant's au naturel, laid-back vibe. And yes, they deliver!

Marianna's Kitchen [@missmariannaf]

What's better than vegan food that's both visually appealing and full of taste? A short but exciting menu that changes every day! Marianna's Kitchen is all about switching it up; the daily menu depends on the market, the season, and the whim of head chef and owner Marianna Farag. The kitchen has gone through more than 300 different recipes since it opened, a little over a year ago. According to Farag, “There are so many ingredients to explore, and each can lend themselves to a plethora of delicious meals. Inspired by local produce but also cooking styles borrowed from various cultures, Marianna's Kitchen is a great place to feed curious minds and bellies, simply by diving into a repertoire of countless plant-based ingredients!”

The restaurant is purposely modest, with all the flash coming from the open kitchen, where chefs cook within view of diners. You're welcome to stop by for fun food options as dining is still available in a limited capacity.

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