First Look: Negril Village, Midtown

A few months back, Negril Village took over the historic firehouse building on North Avenue that was once home to Engine 11 Tavern. Since then, the classy Caribbean spinoff of the Greenwich Village spot of the same name has been flying under the radar, making do without a working website of its own, and only a handful of reviews on Yelp. But fans of the food of Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Trinidad can check out the menu and make reservations on Open Table.

The look: Situated on two levels under a soaring ceiling, the décor is surprisingly understated and elegant, with dark woodwork and vintage tile floors. An expansive marble bar occupies one side of the downstairs dining room, divided by a knee wall and seating at booths and tables on the other side. Upstairs, hardwood floors and brick walls set off a more secluded space.

The scene: One sunny afternoon, the tables on the cozy front patio remained empty, along with most of the seats at the bar. But several gatherings of office workers filled the room with brisk conversations that floated among bouncing strains of reggae music.

The food: Negril Village calls its cooking “Nu Caribbean” — which might mean that in addition to chicken roti ($16), oxtails braised with lima beans and served with rice and peas ($22), and curried goat stew with jasmine rice and vegetables ($22), there’s lobster shrimp and grits ($24) and rum-glazed New York Strip steak ($28). Whole red snapper is prepared with herb creole broth, okra and green bananas ($28). At lunch, entrees are less expensive, and you’ll find the likes of an herb grilled chicken sandwich ($12) and a burger with caramelized red onions, smoked tomatoes and cheddar cheese ($12).

The Drinks: In keeping with the Caribbean menu, expect plenty of rum cocktails, including, Negril’s Rum Cream, with Amaretto, crème de cacao and coconut cream ($12). The bottled beer list ($6) features lagers from Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico and Trinidad. Sweetwater IPA and Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager were on the recent draft list ($5).

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The extras: Weekly specials include Rum Punch Thursdays, with $7 rum punch and appetizer specials; unlimited mimosas at Saturday brunch, served 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

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