Barbadian cuisine again makes New York – East Harlem welcomes “Bajan Bistro”
First there was Cock’s restaurant which received rave reviews all around, sooner or later, competition had to rise – and it has… DNAinfo has more on the new eatery situated close to where Bill Clinton’s law consultancy is;-
“It never occurred to me that we would be the first,” said Fiona Ghassomians, a native of Barbados who owns the restaurant with her Greek husband, Alen. “But if there was a Bajan restaurant anywhere in Manhattan, a Bajan would know.”
Some patrons figure the restaurant is just Caribbean.
“A lot of people come in and think we are Jamaican and they ask for patties,” said Alen Ghassomians who operates other restaurant ventures. “We have patties but they are made of puffed pastry.”
Head chef Stephen Alleyene, who learned the secrets of Bajan cuisine while watching his grandmother cook before being professionally trained, said Bajan food is similar to other Caribbean food but with a twist.
Bajan food is about the spices like thyme, garlic, scallions and parsley. There’s also a lot of hot pepper used and freshness is emphasized because in Barbados, the fish on the plate that night was likely caught that day. Vegetables like okra and collards are also favorites.
The Bajan transplant is making sure her staff does everything possible to make City residents feel like they are not in USA but in rural Wildey, Simmon’s Land or Salter’s;-
…walking into the restaurant to be like taking a trip to Barbados. The restaurant has bright yellow walls and wood plank floors painted blue, just like you would find in a rum shop or pub in Barbados.
Steel drum music plays in the background and pictures of the sea and green lushness of Barbados line the wall. The colorful plants known as Joseph’s Coat that are common in Barbados spruce up the windows.
Also imported is the friendliness and hospitality that Bajans are known for. Even while he’s rubbing fish with lemon or creating his own special seasoning, Alleyene waves to someone outside the restaurant every few minutes.
“I want people to walk in the door and get a taste of the food but also the culture; how we act, how we speak and treat people. Some people may never get a chance to go to Barbados,” said Ghassomians.
Patrons say its working.