“Where great food meets great people” is how Montego Bay Grille in Hobart bills itself.
“Hobart will be a culinary epicenter in not so long from now in the Northwest Indiana region. We pride ourselves on being pioneers in that aspect,” said Teddian Jackson, owner and chef of Montego Bay Grille, about locating downtown.
“Others have been following suit. That’s something we pride ourselves in.”
The staff at Montego Bay Grille, which opened in July, includes front-of-the-house manager Ashley Garner, a Hobart native, and sous chef Rahan Jones, a Jamaican native who now lives in Hobart.
Here is the dish on this local eatery, which presents live music at least once a week and has become a requested venue for hosting corporate getaways:
On the menu: A Caribbean fusion concept with locally sourced ingredients comprise a large part of the menu, which includes house-made hummus and plantain chips, crab cake, lobster ravioli, coconut shrimp curry, and jerk-style chicken, pork, shrimp and salmon. “Our menu is one page and the reason being is we focus on every dish that is crafted,” said Jackson, a Jamaican who now lives in Hobart. “Everything is made in-house daily from our french fries to our sauces. We don’t carry anything frozen.”
About the owner: “My background has always been in the restaurant industry,” said Jackson, who is a certified executive chef, an approved certification evaluator for the American Culinary Federation and an active member of the Research Chefs Association. He also has been involved with the Hobart Food Pantry since 2014. Jackson’s work experience includes chef positions with casinos in Northwest Indiana, a cruise line in Miami and a resort in Jamaica.
A mission statement: “What we’re trying to do and what we’ve been doing thus far is to mimic in a certain sense the feel one would get if one were in the Caribbean,” said Jackson. “The over and above of hospitality is what we’re really focused on — not just great food and great drinks but just an overall feel of the atmosphere and the service. This was something that we found lacking in the market so that’s been the niche we need to fill.”
Decor: “It’s quiet. It’s quaint with vibrant colors but not overpowering. It’s a relaxed atmosphere with a subtle presence,” said Jackson of the restaurant, which seats 38 inside and approximately 20 on the back patio.
Specialties: “The jerk preparation is to the Caribbean as barbecue is to the South. It is a non-ambiguous taste. It’s either done correctly or it’s not,” said Jackson. “There are lots of people who have a bit of Caribbean experience whether they got married, honeymooned or vacationed there and they know that taste. It’s not something you can play with. Because we do it in an authentic form, people gravitate towards it.”
We’re different because: “We’re sitting on a lakefront so to have that dining right there next to the view of Lake George is just such a serene and tranquil setting. Nature provides the whole ambiance,” said Jackson. “Especially during the evening hours it is a hot spot for couples with the soft lighting, the low music and just being here just a few feet from Lake George.”
Prices: Dinner starts at $5 for partners in wine (appetizers), $9 for salads and $11 for entrees. Lunch items, which are served from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays, start at $9.
Logistics: Montego Bay Grille is at 322 Main St., Hobart, Indiana. Hours are 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4-9 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays, closed Mondays and 4-9 p.m. Tuesdays-Wednesdays. Call 219-940-3152 or go to www.montegobaygrille.com.
Jessi Virtusio is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.