When you sit down to dine in a scenic New England seaside city like Newport, you have a certain expectation for the types of dishes you’ll experience: chowder, clam cakes, lobster rolls, etc. What you don’t expect, in the middle of downtown Newport, is Carribean food.
Humming Bird: A Taste of the Carribean, started by Dezna Bowen and her husband Abraham Parkes, opened in October.
Humming Bird is a casual space with a warm, inviting beach atmosphere. Although the set-up of the restaurant is a layout akin to a burrito bar, the feeling there is clearly based around island vibes. The weathered wood, the relaxed, pale yellow walls, and the consistent leafy green imagery all back up the aesthetic.
Jamaican food is a new one for me, and I was excited to jump in. After browsing the menu at home beforehand, I decided the smartest thing to do was go to the restaurant and talk to the staff. After I sat down for a few minutes and grabbed some drinks, I asked our waitress what I should order.
“Have you had oxtail?” she asked. I hadn’t, and I knew it was one of the things I wanted to try. She told me to absolutely order the dish, in combination with a few others to round out a good sampling of what Humming Bird has to offer. I ordered a few items that caught my eye and waited impatiently for my first course – but before that, she brought over a delicious plate of complimentary plantain chips.
A fall soup in August? Yes please. The Carribean pumpkin soup ($4) was a delight. A traditional pumpkin soup on a hot end-of-summer evening could come off as a little heavy, but the creamy starter laid off on the thickness and relied more on a smooth, spicy, and thin take on the autumn specialty.
The Port Royal sandwich ($11) was next up, along with their Carribean Cobb salad ($11.50) served as a wrap. The sandwich was great for a quick, simple taste of their jerk turkey and the Carribean Cobb offered a little taste of what was to come, with Humming Bird’s homemade pineapple vinaigrette. These are great for the less adventurous eaters to get a little bridge to the upcoming bolder entrees.
The Oxtail plate ($14) and the Jamaican jerk chicken ($11) did not disappoint. Both entrees are served with rice and mixed vegetables. The jerk chicken was smoky and satisfying, a flavor profile I hadn’t experienced in quite some time, and I was excited to revisit it in such an authentic way. Finally, I sunk my teeth into the oxtail. The dish was rich, tender, and saucy. I felt like I was embracing a new food while at the same time appreciating something I’ve always loved: a well-prepared cut of beef. I also got to try some of their smoky Jamaican barbecue chicken ($11) along with some perfectly fried plantains ($3).
If you’re looking for a little bit of a change of pace around the Newport culinary scene, Humming Bird will provide that in spades. That being said, if you go to Humming Bird and you don’t try the oxtail, Jamaican a big mistake.
P.S. I hate myself for making that pun. I’ll show myself out.
104 Broadway, Newport • 619-0032