It’s easy to pass by Presley’s Seafood Bar and Grill – it’s an unassuming shack in the midst of small shops on the narrow road along the cliffs, right across from the much better known Rockhouse. With only three tables (and a few more in the back), you wouldn’t expect much of a dining experience either. But, it’s one of those wonderful places where it’s all about the food, and less about appearances.
Presley’s is owned by… Presley… who is also the chef. There is a specific way you do things here. The Presley way. You must call ahead to make a reservation, and indicate the type of fish you want. David chose Kingfish and I chose Lobster. Then, Presley makes it the way he knows best.
When we arrived, Presley came out to greet us and shook our hands, “Respect.” I love that phrase (it’s also on the sign out front). He is a big burly teddy bear of a guy, with a winning smile and a big chef’s hat. He owns the room.
We were the first there at 7 p.m., so we had time to take a few pictures before our food arrived (within 10 minutes – since we ordered ahead).
We were amazed by our plates! I got two lobster tails (a smaller and more spiny version than found in North America) – Presley told me I got an extra half tail (I think because we were first for the night). It was perfectly cooked and sweet, and so easy to pull out of the shell. The garlic butter he brought for dipping was also perfect.
David loved his Kingfish. He has been yearning for Kingfish since he got here (which is becoming harder to come by with the Lion Fish taking over the reefs). He was impressed by the large portion, crispy skin on the bottom, with sweet peppers that paired nicely. We also really loved the rice and peas – the best we’ve had in Negril so far.
As we were finishing our dishes, a german couple came in and sat down. After a while, Presley came out and seemed peeved. “Are you here for the Mahi Mahi?” he asked. With the language barrier, things got awkward fast. “Do you have a reservation?” he asked a bit gruffly. They shook their heads, no. “You need to make a reservation, that’s how it works around here,” he said. It totally reminded me of the “Soup Nazi” episode of Seinfeld. There is definitely a way things are done here, and he wasn’t going to have anyone mess with his system!
The german couple looked at us, and back at Presley, “you will feed us?” they asked and shrugged. Presley resigned himself and simply asked them to move to the back room (to make room for the 8 p.m. reservation), and had a fascinating exchange where he explained there were no menus and persuaded them to order shrimp and octopus.
It’s an experience I won’t forget and will always laugh about! One of the best, and cheapest, meals in Negril – and certainly the most memorable.