It’s a chilly, January morning in New York City when we arrive at the colorful enclave that is Miss Lily’s 7A. With pastel pink brick walls and a red awning, the second outpost of the Jamaica-inspired restaurant stands out like a flamingo amongst the grey, glass and concrete that defines the city.
Inside Miss Lily’s, the vibe is that of an eclectic 1980s diner merged with a Caribbean beach shack. Color is everywhere—from the blue accented bar stools to the photography splashed walls—the decor is transportive, outmatched only by the rich smells emanating from the kitchen. At the helm of the restaurant stands Chef Andre Fowles, a Jamaica native from Kingston.
You may have heard of Chef Fowles from such popular shows as Food Network’s Chopped—where he was crowned winner— or Cooking Caribbean, where he competed against three chefs. Chef Fowles is a born and bred Jamaican who attended culinary school on the island before getting his start cooking at the renowned Round Hill Hotel and Villas. Today, Chef Fowles can be found in NYC, injecting the city with some Caribbean-inspired flavor and flair.
Spicy and colorful, the only way to describe Jamaican cuisine is that it pops. Colors pop off the plate, jerk flavors pop off the palette, spice from scotch bonnet pop off the tongue. There is nothing dull or forgettable about Jamaican cuisine and, especially, about Miss Lily’s 7A where dishes such as jerk ramen and curry goat stew are served.
For this episode of Hungerlust, Chef Fowles served us Hellshire Fried Fish whose namesake comes from Hellshire Beach, about half an hour outside Kingston. Said to be a Sunday morning favorite for locals, Hellshire Fried Fish is usually enjoyed beachside with a mandatory side of sand between the toes; but here in NYC—where snow boots have replaced flip-flops—the sand will have to be imagined.