A 20-second ferry ride from a dock on the Freeport main road brings you to this houseboat moored at the base of the Freeport Peninsula in the waters of the Montego Bay Marine Park Fish Sanctuary (wonder what the seafood on the menu thinks of that irony).
A floating bar and nightclub in the 70s, this old barge has had its brushes with celebrity: Steve McQueen used it during the filming of Papillion; the Grateful Dead, Sting, the Beach Boys, and Aretha Franklin used it as a green room during a music festival; and in the 80s and 90s it was the popular HouseBoat Fondue Restaurant restaurant run by Timothy Moxon, an actor most famous for portraying John “006” Strangways, the character to utter the first line in (and shortly thereafter be the first to die in) the very first James Bond movie, Dr. No.
Since 2001, the restaurant has been in the hands of Scott Stanley and chef Rich Nurse. You can dine in the nautically woody interior or up on one of the two covered decks above for the best views of the fish in the water and the sunset over the bay.
The food is international fusion, well prepared, and tasty: perhaps BBQ chicken thighs, wet-sugar-and-mustard-glazed pork tenderloin, or a lovely vegetarian medley like grilled local market vegetables with savoury creamed corn pudding, roasted onion with calabaza pumpkin, and a miso beet and cabbage slaw. And what would a houseboat restaurant be without a solid surf side to the menu? There’s seared snapper fillet with a grapefruit lime buerre blanc, tiger shrimp carbonara with a Scotch bonnet–spiked tomato concassé, and lasagna made ai frutti di mare (with shrimp and scallops).
The kitchen does not open until 6pm, but the bar deck opens at 4:30, with a 5:30–7pm happy hour—and, frankly, where else would you want to be for a sundowner cocktail than aboard a boat in the Caribbean?
- Reid Bramblett