Review of Blue Bananas Cafe
June 9, 2009
Lauren Hanat
By: Lauren Hanat -
Lauren Hanat graduated Lehigh University with a double major in Latin and journalism. Born in Queens, she's fallen in love with long runs, classic rock, scooping ice cream and surfing. She smiles every time she hears a Billy Joel song and cries when watching Forest Gump.

Finding a pleasant, sit-down dining experience on South Street is quite a task, and if there are nice places to eat, paying big bucks usually accompanies the experience (thanks, Supper). Most of the establishments on South Street involve take-out lines, cheese steaks and even window take-outs on street corners (Ishkabibble fries are no joke).

I was expecting to eat yet another slice of pizza on the go, strolling towards Front Street down South when I stumbled upon an store front that I had never noticed before (which is not usually anything special on South Street, where businesses are opening and closing faster than the accounting department at GM). The façade did nothing to reflect the beautiful dining room inside, a, dare I say, tropical paradise inside the Blue Bananas Café, the new restaurant that has taken over the old Sonam.

The welcoming husband and wife owners, Rod Millwood and Mona Renee Wilkerson, (who also own the next door Laff House) opened the café in October 2008 hoping to have people dine at a reasonable price in a beautiful atmosphere. The huge window-walled storefront was created to lure curious passersby gazing at the artwork and vibrant blue walls.

Millwood was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, where he would often see the mountains in the distance as appearing blue. His passion for the color blue manifested itself in his restaurant décor and his record label, The Blue Mountain Record Label. 

Both owners take great pride in their café and the family-run business is truly hands on; Millwood creates a complimentary mango salsa himself (he serves the salsa to every guest free of charge with plantain chips). His hand-selected mangos made for an incredibly flavorful salsa--a refreshing combination of sweet, salty and spicy.   

All the food served at Blue Bananas Café truly embodies Jamaica home-cooked cuisine and is seasoned and marinated for an entire day before being served. Millwood trusts only a select few in his kitchen (Jared, Tukay and himself) and always has a watchful eye on what's going on in the kitchen.

I could have eaten the mango salsa for hours, complacent with that and a ginger beer, but my friend and I ordered the Blue Bananas Sampler for good measure, even though mangos were the only thing on our mind. When the sampler was brought out, our thoughts were suddenly altered to the coconut shrimp, beef patties, jerk chicken wings, curry goat, curry chicken and brown stew chicken (the platter changes with available ingredients however, and sometimes includes fried codfish battercakes with avocado dip). The slow-roasted jerk chicken wings were magnificent--the juicy chicken just fell of the bone. Most dishes are a bit spicy, so be sure to order a few Cola Champagnes or Tings.

Other don't miss items are the mashed banana side, brown stew chicken (pieces of chicken in a blend of brown sugar, island spices, tomatoes and onions and simmered until gravy consistency) and jumbo crab cakes with island seasoning.
Some of the menu items, like oxtail or goat, require an open mind, but for an average price of $12 and these incredible flavors, you really can't go wrong.