Caribbean restaurant St. James opens on 14th Street

Team behind Cane creates new Caribbean dining experience in Washington, DC

Jeanine Prime’s St. James, a Caribbean restaurant crafted by the team behind award-winning Cane, opens today, Tuesday, May 17, with dinner service starting at 5:30 p.m. Diners will find the restaurant at 2017 14th Street, Northwest. Inside, a 67-seat dining room and diverse menu of Caribbean cuisine, plus creative cocktails from the bar, and a “thoughtful” wine list await. A true melting pot of flavors, the cuisine at St. James draws from various cultures: African, East Indian, Chinese, Portuguese, and French influences.

St. James features a 14-seat bar. Plans are in the works for a 12-seat seasonal patio in the coming months.

“The opening of St. James has been a long time coming and I’m so excited to officially open our doors,” said owner Jeanine Prime. “The food and history of the Caribbean is rich and diverse and I’m proud to celebrate and share them. It was an honor to work with Emma and Alfredo to build modern interpretations of the food I grew up eating in Trinidad and throughout the Caribbean. The path to opening has had its challenges but I’m so proud of our team’s hard work and efforts and look forward to showcasing a Caribbean menu through a fresh, new lens.”

St. James dinner menu

The carefully-crafted dinner menu at St. James is a collaboration between Prime, Cane culinary veteran Emma Hernandez, and Alfredo Romero Contreras, St. James’ newly appointed chef. Contreras comes from Fiola Mare.

There is a shareable collection that provides a variety of tastes to be experienced socially:

  • Callaloo Soup ($16), which is enjoyed throughout the Caribbean region and made with pureed spinach, chilies, coconut milk, and topped with lump crab meat.
  • Provisions with Salt Cured Pork ($16), a play on a dish known throughout the Caribbean as “Oil Down,” features breadfruit, yams, taro, and pork lardons in a coconut milk sauce. Salt cod, brought to the region by Portuguese settlers, can be ordered as fried fritters and served with tamarind mayo,
  • Accras ($10), or in crudo form as Salt Cod Crudo ($20), is prepared with house salt-cured black cod and aji-scotch bonnet chili purees.
St. James' decor provides an immersive experience to parallel the food and drinks. Photo by Melena DeFlorimonte
St. James’ decor provides an immersive experience to parallel the food and drinks. Photo by Melena DeFlorimonte for St. James.

Larger plates provide a cornucopia of proteins:

  • Crab and Dumplings ($30) are prepared with soft-shell crab, Trini-style taro dumplings and a coconut curry sauce.
  • Pepper Shrimp ($30), whole jumbo shrimp, are served with a scotch bonnet and pimento chili sauce and creamy coo coo (a corn-based puree).
  • Paratha Platter ($60), which features an assortment of duck, beef, and vegetable curries, comes with murtani (a spicy mix of roasted okra, tomatoes, eggplant and garlic) and paratha bread.

Sweets and drinks

Fellow Trinidadian, Winnette McIntosh Ambrose, owner of award-winning Capitol Hill bakery The Sweet Lobby and Souk, and a childhood friend of Prime, helped her with the dessert collection:

  • Chocolate Mousse ($9) from McIntosh Ambrose is infused with ginger and served with coffee cream and chocolate pearls.
  • And on a daily basis, McIntosh Ambrose provides the choux pastry that serves as a base for the restaurant’s Profiteroles ($9). These are served with a choice of house-made, tropical-inspired ice cream flavors like coconut and bananas foster.

Glendon Hartley, of Service Bar and Causa, will oversee the cocktail program, bringing to life the flavors and ingredients of the Caribbean. Hartley also hails from Trinidad and was tapped to manage the wine program and list, a collection that will complement the vibrant flavors of the food on the menu:

  • The Pineapple Chow ($13), inspired by the popular Trinidadian street food of the same name, is made with Angostura White Oak Trinidadian rum, pineapple, shadon beni (culantro), black pepper and lime.
  • West Indian Old Fashioned ($16) is prepared with a blend of Caribbean rum, curry-chai tea and cocoa bitters.
  • St. James Spritz ($13) combines Wray & Nephew Jamaican rum, hibiscus, sparkling wine, Jamaican cream soda and citrus.

Check out these non-alcoholic, mocktail options:

  • Scotch Bonnet Fizz ($8) is made with scotch bonnet, bell pepper, citrus, and soda.
  • Banana Soda ($8) combines banana, citrus and soda.
  • Mauby ($8) utilizes Mauby tea, a sweet tea made from a bitter bark of Mauby tea, citrus and soda.
The Pineapple Chow was inspired by Trinidadian street food of the same name. Photo by Melena DeFlorimonte
The Pineapple Chow was inspired by Trinidadian street food of the same name. Photo by Melena DeFlorimonte for St. James.

Trinidad’s capital, transplanted to DC

The restaurant was “named after a district in Trinidad’s capital, Port of Spain, St. James is a cultural center of the island representing a confluence of the country’s multi-ethnic traditions. The dining room is open and airy with whitewashed exposed brick and natural wood exposed beams that are accented with a chartreuse tiled bar and tropical plants,” announced the restaurant.

Brass lighting illuminates the space in a gentle way. Meanwhile, the walls are adorned with black and white photography from Trinidad, as well as a mural from DC-based artist, Rodrigo Pradel. St. James opens for dinner service Tuesday through Thursday at 5:30 p.m. and closes at 10:30 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, the restaurant is open from 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

St. James, 2017 14th Street, Northwest, Washington, DC 20009

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