Dining Report: The Pelican Grill ¦ Montego Bay

restaurant-review-the-pelican-grill-montego-bayThere are a few restaurants that come to mind when I’m asked to suggest a restaurant that offers authentic local cuisine in Montego Bay—one of those few happens to be The Pelican Grill. One of the most recognizable restaurants in Montego Bay that sits on the “Hip Strip” and has been serving local & international dishes for nearly 50 years. The Pelican Grill has easily become a staple place for both locals and tourist alike to visit. It boasts a warm & inviting atmosphere, marked by a picturesque interior with retro-style, padded seating and an old-school soda fountain, offering handmade milk shakes & banana splits, that can only be fitting of a scene from any 60’s diner.

When I was a child, I always looked forward to the weekend because they meant a day of playing with my younger sister, watching cartoons and then a trip out to brunch with my mom and dad. More often than not, our destination was the Pelican Grill. I have fond memories sitting on the padded chairs in our own little booth enjoying malts, sundaes and their famous fruit Melba dessert. As I grew older my visits to Pelican Grill lessened more and more, and somehow it has been quite a few years since my last visit. Luckily for me Restaurant Week presented the perfect opportunity for me to check them out.

Walking into the restaurant was a huge rush of nostalgia; the furnishings have been updated (just a bit), but the restaurant still has the same look and feel I remember from my childhood. The feel of the 1960s is definitely still present. I was happy to see that the restaurant was pretty busy, especially for a Tuesday evening, thankfully we didn’t wait long for a seat and as remembered the service was great and the menu had plentiful options.seafood-martini-restaurant-review-the-pelican-grill-montego-bayFor starters I had the ‘Too-Hot-For-You Seafood Martini’ and man oh man, it was certainly ‘Too-Hot-For-Me’ to enjoy! I love spicy food, especially when one part of the dish is light in flavor, a little heat is always a plus for me. Unfortunately the seafood martini is a cold appetizer and I just didn’t enjoy the mix of cold-very spicy seafood. The contrasting textures and flavors could have been a winner but the spiciness overpowered any flavors from the mix of seafood and all I could pay attention to was the heat trapped in my mouth. Nonetheless the presentation of the overall dish was lovely.

For my main entree I had Lobster Thermidor simmered in a creamy sauce and a subtle hint of cheese served with Pumpkin rice and Garlic roasted vegetables. Sadly I was not impressed because the flavor and spice was there but the quality was not—I found the lobster to be quite chewy. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great either, overall I found it to be a pretty average lobster dish.
My girlfriend had the Fillet of Snapper, seasoned with a blend of Jamaican herbs and spices, broiled and served with whipped potatoes and topped with a Pineapple relish. Sounds amazing I know, but her thoughts were just the same as mine, pretty average. The veggies were bland and uninteresting, the mashed potatoes were so-so- and so was her fish, just “so-so”. Once again the presentation of the food itself was very appealing.
Then there was dessert. When I saw that they were offering a Rum & Raisin Cheesecake on their menu I thought how fitting this would be for the upcoming holiday season. It sounded incredibly delicious, so I was all for giving it a whirl. While we waited on our ‘boozy’ cheesecake we chatted a bit while drinking a value-priced Chardonnay from the Robert Mondavi’s entry level range of Woodbridge—it was delightfully pleasing. Somehow drinking the wine left me even more eager to dig in to this rum infused cheesecake. So when our waiter placed it in front of us, that’s exactly what we did—DIG IN!
The textural component of the cheesecake was just divine and the layer of rum-soaked raisins certainly gave us an unexpected surprise. A surprise that I’m sure you will love if you’re a drinker or just love a very strong rum flavor. Lets just say this is a cheesecake only for grown-ups because you could definitely taste the rum. I personally would have preferred just a subtle taste of the rum to give the cheesecake a real kick however with this particular cheesecake all I could taste was the richness of the rum and instead it gave me a kick, punch and a blow to the head lol. Overall it was a pretty nice cheesecake. My girlfriend on the other highly rated it because well—she loves to drink haha!
New restaurants pop-up all the time in Jamaica. While some close within a year of opening others close after several years of being the “IT” spot in town. It takes years of dedication, loyal customers and generations of families to stand the test of time and I believe the Pelican Grill is one such restaurant which has insured their existence through such. When you visit the Pelican Grill, you don’t just get a healthy dose of nostalgia; you get service with a smile.

Although I was so happy to see that this fond childhood memory of mine was still well preserved I do believe there is room for improvement. I love the 1960’s diner feel that you get when entering the restaurant however the restaurant could do with a little updating without losing that ‘old charm’ that it’s known for. Additionally, the food was pretty hit and miss. The menu had several good authentic options but some dishes were good while others were unappetizing and not as flavorful as either of us would have liked. This was surprising since Pelican happens to be an all time favorite, as evidenced by the bustling dining room but I’ve decided to give the restaurant the benefit of the doubt…perhaps my girlfriend and I hit it on an off night. That said, I will be returning because I really did have a great time enjoying the atmosphere and each other’s company.

If you’re looking for an authentic Jamaican culinary experience, combined with a calm, casual atmosphere in Montego Bay this is definitely one of the best places to find it. Talk Soon. Nuff Love, Natasha ♥

Gloucester Avenue
Hip Strip, Montego Bay


  1. November 26, 2015 / 11:59 am

    I felt the same way about this restaurant when I was there two years ago after going there for years & years. It is still a good location but they need to amp up the menu. Thanks for this review. . .

    • December 1, 2015 / 8:06 pm

      Yes totally agree. Its a great location but they could do with a little updating and revamping of the menu