The Last Bite: Pre-Christmas Vibes At Chive by Sasha Lee

The old saying goes: When life gives you lemons, forget about surf & turf and cruise over to Chive instead. At least, I think that’s what it says.

For all of my fastidious effort, this is my column’s second detour of 2021 (Grrr). Murphy’s Law is the new sheriff in town circa 2020, but serendipity was kind the last time. Nevertheless, she persisted. I clicked my heels (read: Google Maps) and hoped a worthwhile lunch was lurking somewhere in the suburbs. Suffice it to say when my Long Island iced tea arrived with a wide lemon wheel that seemed to wink at me, I knew I was in the right place.

Located in Kingston’s busy Barbican environs, Chive turned out to be a worthy detour. Since surf and turf was off the table, I still opted for something up the seafood alley and was pleasantly surprised by Chive’s latest menu addition. Roasted Callaloo Crab Dip makes use of callaloo, a local green leafy vegetable (think spinach, but thicker) seen in soups, stuffing and everything in between. The Chive treatment sees oven roasted callaloo and fresh crab meat combined with their house made three cheese sauce. Customers can choose between garlic pita bread or garlic bread topped off with a heavy sprinkling of mozzarella.

The low-light vibe of this tucked-in tavern (ten minutes from the town capital) works well on any occasion: an after errands watering hole or date night destination. The decor isn’t the only compelling element about this oasis either. What sets Chive apart is as much its location as the litany of delectable entrees as well as brunch offerings. The menu is also a delightful excursion into the musts of Jamaican cuisine: Jerk (the Holy Grail), Oxtail, Snapper, Saltfish, Curry, Coconut, Pimento, Ripe Plantain plus Callaloo among other options like Marlin and Mussels.

Chive’s opening back in 2019 also coincided with Kingston’s growing brunch bias, and they joined the likes of Julie Mango Restaurant and others around town with the fancy, festive offering. On that note, as I waited for lunch, I watched workmen through the plate-glass window busy with the annual face-lift, hanging twinkling lights to complement the fast approaching season. The auspicious scene not only gave me the title for this month’s piece (!), but also a (well-timed) jumpstart on a few projects on next year’s vision board. There’s nothing like a visual cue to affirm what you already knew!

As for the actual reason I ended up choosing Chive, lunch was exquisitely tasty. Although the crab dip was perfectly seasoned (at least to my palette), it was actually a bit too watery. What I did appreciate though was the prominent crab taste of the savory, straight from the oven spread.

Hearty elements competing with layers of sharp cheese is a winner every time, especially with the crisp (cool) contrast of a salad. Yes, of course there was salad, #iykyk. This time, I went with the Pank Goat Cheese (goat cheese, mixed greens, carrots, cucumbers, fruit vinaigrette) though with runners-up boasting fried capers and almond slivers, it might not be long till I’m back on the Chive train.

So, it’s safe to say your new favorite entree might be on Chive’s thoughtful, well curated menu. Jazzed up Jamaican fare awaits at this hideout/haven with a name that’s a nod to the real protagonists of Caribbean cuisine — seasoning — the source from which great cooking stems.

Hearty elements competing with layers of sharp cheese is a winner every time, especially with the crisp (cool) contrast of a salad. Yes, of course there was salad, #iykyk. This time, I went with the Pank Goat Cheese (goat cheese, mixed greens, carrots, cucumbers, fruit vinaigrette) though with runners-up boasting fried capers and almond slivers, it might not be long till I’m back on the Chive train.

So, it’s safe to say your new favorite entree might be on Chive’s thoughtful, well curated menu. Jazzed up Jamaican fare awaits at this hideout/haven with a name that’s a nod to the real protagonists of Caribbean cuisine — seasoning — the source from which great cooking stems.


Between waiting for lunch and watching decorations go up, I harked back to a September playlist peppered with tracks from Lil Nas X’s debut album, Montero, and 333 by Tinashe. My favorite tracks on each – X’s Tales of Dominica and Angels by Tinashe – are equal parts expressive and atmospheric.  Needless to say, Chive’s moody ambience (and iced tea that did its job) did the playlist justice. 

“Every day more friends are feelin’ like strangers,” Tinashe sings, matching Lil Nas X’s latitude, “I’ve been living on an island made from fate”. Over haunting productions, each crooner craves warmth that’s obscure or missing like an apparition or a faraway land. Check ‘em out!

Sasha Lee is a Jamaican writer who has too many interests, and credits in both journalism and fiction. Her work has appeared in DancehallMag.com, Ellipsis Zine, Sublunary Review and LEON Literary Review, among others. Among her creative endeavors is a monthly column entitled “The Last Bite” – where she shares a slice of paradise in food and music reviews – for MixedMag.co. She can be found on Twitter @ohsashalee.

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