If there’s something I say everyday, it’s that music connects.
To me, it connects people in ways words alone can’t.
Besides being a foodie (and constant tweeter/Facebooker!), I am a singer. You will find me constantly listening to music, piecing out the little things in music I love, such as when a song resolves itself.
On Facebook back in February, I learned of the passing of a truly talented, wonderful Long Island female singer.
When I heard the news, I was shocked. My mind immediately goes back to that one and only time I met her. The night I found out, I texted my friend who I went with, Alyssa, and we were both stunned.
A husband and wife musical group, The Next Level Band was playing the night I went with my friend Alyssa, and while we waited for our table, I heard this woman, La Dawn Parris, singing Reggae/Calypso versions of top 40 hits while her husband, Tyrone, played the instruments (and sang some songs too!). I was mesmerized by this group, but especially La Dawn. I didn’t even introduce myself yet and found myself singing along while she was singing, and she noticed too, and smiled at me. It was a blast. La Dawn would even dance with the listeners dancing in the bar.
At the end of said night, I walked right up to La Dawn and introduced myself. I told her she has an amazing voice, how the band is awesome, and I hope to see them again soon. I took one of their cards and we were invited to come back the week after.
Well, it’s been over a year and a half later. And I STILL haven’t been back to Tequila Jacks. Not because I didn’t want to go back. I really have no excuse.
But, if there’s something that constantly amazes me about this beautiful life we all live, it’s how people come in and out of your life, sometimes very quickly.
So I say this. Cherish and live in your life’s moments.
While I only met La Dawn once and didn’t know anything about her beside the fact she’s an amazing singer and her warmth and positive energy glowed the time I saw her —
that’s all I needed to know. In that moment. And now.
Rest in peace, La Dawn Parris.
Through my love of food and love of music, I met you once. I heard your song.
Your music moved me, and I will remember that for the rest of my life.
I’m a huge believer in everything happening for a reason.
So when my friend Alyssa headed to Port Jeff (or as many Long Islanders say, ‘Down Port’), last week to experience Long Island restaurant week, it completely worked out that the first place, a very popular restaurant, was completely booked the night we came down.
Intuitively we explored the village’s other restaurants, walking up Main St. I started naming off several places we could try that night and then we stopped in front of a place I had been to a few times and loved, Tequila Jacks.
I had been to Tequila Jacks a few times with another friend, having an appetizer and dessert with her during those times. But never have I ever had a full dinner there. So Alyssa and I took the chance to head inside to what truly is Port Jeff’s paradise.
Why paradise, you ask?
This restaurant is an upscale Caribbean restaurant, packed with tropical drinks, island-themed dishes and what was the true icing on the cake: live music from an AMAZING husband-wife group: The Next Level Band.
We waited a half hour for our table, and while we waited, we got to sit at the beautiful wooden bar and listen to the beautiful stylings of La Dawn and Tyrone Parris. I even started singing along! There were classic Bob Marley songs, Reggae/Calypso songs, R&B, and even some of the amazing top 40 hits on the radio right now, made into a Reggae/Calypso version, such as “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5, “Mr. Saxobeat” by Alexandra Stan, and more. We had a blast the entire night listening to these two, not only for their amazing voices and excellent guitar and steel drum playing, but because these two were so much fun. La Dawn was dancing with listeners who were dancing in the bar.
That night there was a special at the bar: $4 mojitos and margaritas. While Alyssa and I didn’t get those, we did opt for the special hand-muddled fruit drinks that we kept seeing being made in front of our eyes with a big, dark wooden muddling device.
Alyssa started out with a Reggae Punch: a blend of Cabernet, Zinfandel and fresh muddled fruits. This was delicious, an island sangria with a sweet, fruity taste.
My first drink of the night was the orange-honeydew melon mojito: Bacardi Melon Rum, muddled with sugar, fresh mint, limes, oranges and honeydew melon, served shaken. Ever since I tried honeydew flavored bubble tea up at Syracuse last year, I’ve especially become a huge fan of honeydew, in drinks. I had a good feeling about this one, and I was right: the light and sweet honeydew chunks mixed with the tangy orange chunks mixed with the melon rum and refreshing mint…It’s definitely a must try cocktail if you’re there! And check out the cool sugar cane garnish that came with it:
After finishing those, we both decided we’d get one more before we were seated at our table. I decided to get another mojito, this time getting my coconut on with the pineapple-coconut mojito: Bacardi Coco Rum, muddled with sugar, fresh mint, limes and pineapple, served shaken. This one was amazing too: think a lightened pina colada with fresh mint mixed in. Refreshing.
Alyssa decided to go coconut too and try the B.V.I. Painkiller: Dark rum, white rum, 151 rum, coconut milk and pineapple juice topped with shaved nutmeg. The painkiller was very good too: it was also like a pina colada, no mint. Definitely a must try too.
After awhile of cocktailing, chatting and singing/grooving to the live tunes, we were finally seated.
For Long Island Restaurant Week, there was a three course menu at Tequila Jack’s for $24.95.
Before I speak about the meals, however, every time you go to Tequila Jacks, the server brings over a basket of fresh plaintain and yuca chips, along with warm coconut-banana bread. These are outstanding, and come with two accompaniments: a creamy butter with spice in it (we thought it was pepper) for the bread, and a spicy tomato salsa for the chips. We loved the combination of the sweet, warm, melt-in-your-mouth bread with the savory butter. We also loved the sweet and salty chips with the spicy, tangy salsa. Great start to a wonderful meal:
As an appetizer, I started out with Jack’s Crab Cakes & Sauce Two Ways (which I added $2 to my meal price for). These were amazing: crispy, crunchy crab cakes with a creamy filling. The sauces were excellent: one was a roasted red pepper remoulade which was a sweet, spicy, creamy pepper/tomato tasting sauce. The other was an island tartar which reminded me of a creamy mayo-based sauce filled with herbs.
Alyssa started out with the marinated beef skewers with pineapple (which added $2 to her meal as well). These were amazing as well: think of filet mignon pieces on a skewer stick with fresh, juicy papaya on the ends, with a sesame dipping sauce to add to the amazing flavors already. These were outstanding.
For our main course, we each got the coconut crusted chicken breast. This was a huge piece of boneless chicken breast covered in a sweet, crunchy coconut breading. There was a coconut chili sauce surrounding the chicken, which to me was like an upscale sweet and sour sauce. The spinach and candied sweet potatoes underneath the chicken were delicious too, the spinach balancing the sweet dish. I also loved the fresh mango salsa on top, giving it the extra kick:
The desserts at Tequila Jacks are incredible too, and house-made! Me being the chocolate-lover I got the flourless chocolate cake. This was amazing: a warm, rich, fudgy chocolate cake that was just the right size after the big meal we had.
Alyssa had the coconut cheesecake, which was light and creamy and delicious too. It has just the right amount of coconut, not overwhelming, and was just the right size. The one thing we both agreed on, however, was the fruit that came with the desserts was not good that night. But please do not let that deter you from eating the desserts and all the food at Tequila Jacks.
We had a great time that night at Tequila Jacks. It was truly a paradise found in Port Jeff: delicious tropical fresh-fruit drinks, live music by a passionate husband-and-wife band, and amazing food and desserts. The portion sizes were amazing for the amount of money we paid, nice large portions.
And guess what? While the “official” restaurant week is over with, I just read on Tequila Jack’s Facebook page that the restaurant is extending its restaurant week menu until Nov. 24, so you can still get over there and try out the menu!
The restaurant also claims on its Facebook page it’s the only restaurant in Port Jeff with an “extended” happy hour until 8 p.m. Another reason to go check out paradise.