On arrival to Lala’s Nutmeg in Downtown Ochi, you are met with the hustle and bustle, vibrancy, noise and colour of any thriving Jamaican market town. A mere five minute drive from the Highway 2000 roundabout, LaLa’s Nutmeg, like an oasis of calm in the middle of the raucous daily life party, immediately soothes the ruffled senses on entering its compound.
We meet the spunky Gen Z influencer and now restaurant owner, Lauren Tomlinson, on a typically too-hot Jamaican summer afternoon.
Utilizing the motto ‘Nourish To Flourish’, Tomlinson had been vegan since 2018 and with much teasing on social media, we were delighted to finaling try the vegan’s meat-free delights, all quietly snuggled away on the same property as her mother’s restaurant, the famous Miss T’s Kitchen.
Lauren’s ambitions don’t fall too far from the tree, as her mother , is the the world-renowned restaurateur, Anna-Kay Tomlinson was nominated as one of the best Restaurants in the Caribbean by USA Today.
We sit in the courtyard of Miss T’s Kitchen and Lala’s Nutmeg and are enticed by the wide selection of items on menu. I decided to try to a few of the things : Blow Wow Burger, Ackee Hummus with Green Plantain Chips, Cauliflower Wings, and ‘Crabby’ Cakes (Jackfruit and Heart of Palm served with Dijon Dill Mayo).
Although Cauliflower Wings are predictable in mainstream vegan world, she pairs it with a tomato sauce that is divine. I especially enjoyed the fascinating taste of the “Crabby” cakes, which look and taste like a crab cake but without “seafood” taste. We scarfed it down with Lemongrass Lemonade, that quenched my thirst on this hot summer day.
Lauren is a hot girl on IG, amassing over 10,000 followers by showing her travels of Jamaica but what alot of people don’t know is she’s an alumna of Europe’s prestigious Les Roches hospitality institution, and understands that customer service is central to the success of her on-going enterprise. The staff is simultaneously attentive, receptive and unobtrusive. We were asked at regular intervals if our standards were being met. It truly makes a difference to the overall dining experience.
With a stated intention of her self-proclaimed ‘Vegan Heaven’ becoming a physical and online platform for the best of the island’s non-meat producing culinary artisans, Tomlinson’s sights are firmly set further afield than Ochi and that’s no bad thing. With the depth of flavours and ever-present positive ital energy on offer, this best-kept secret is soon to feature high up on a plethora of must-visit Caribbean eatery global lists.