Miramar has one of the largest Jamaican populations in the U.S., so it’s not surprising that its adopted son and Jamaican native Paul Bennett would find a receptive audience for his authentic Jamaican cuisine.
You won’t find the Jamaican national flag, life-sized pictures of Bob Marley, or photos of exotic waterfalls on the walls of Roun-A-Goosey, Paul Bennett’s authentic Jamaican “fine din-ing” restaurant in Miramar. The first-time restaurant owner says the cuisine is his native island’s ambassador and justly, takes center stage. No one walking through the door is just a customer. “You are family,” says Bennett, flashing his signature megawatt smile. Every child knows him as “Uncle Goosey.”
While Bennett has taken liberty with the term “fine dining” (as he explains, it’s to differentiate from mostly takeout Jamaican spots), he’s created a warm, family atmosphere within a relatively new Mediterranean-style development centrally located on Red Road.Groupings of silk roses grace the restaurant’s six indoor tables, as the cozy place bustles with takeout orders (“Jamaicans traditionally like to eat at home,” explains Bennett).
It was the Jamaica native’s lifelong dream to open a restaurant, but professional detours led him to spend a decade as the Chief Adminis- trative Officer of Meteorological Service in Jamaica, then relocate to Miami for an MBA and 12 years as the City of Miramar’s Human Re- sources Analyst. In 2016, Bennett switched gears and made his dream a reality, first choosing the all-important name, Roun-A-Goosey, a nod to his Jamaican nickname and the place to watch sporting events. When people at home would ask, “Where are you watching the game?” the response would inevitably be “Roun-A-Goosey,” i.e., Goosey’s house. Next, he hired Jamaica native and 30-year culinary veteran Lucal Gordon as his executive chef to create authentic dishes that Jamaicans would recognize and newbies would savor. Finally, the opening date of June 13, 2016, was considered auspicious as Bennett’s lucky number, past dorm number and teen soccer jersey are all 13.
Those who have never tried Jamaican food are in for a treat here. Those who consider themselves aficionados are seen coming and going all day for the familiar flavors and spices and recipes that are, for the most part, kept under lock and key, as is the ingredients for “Goosey Punch,” the sweet, flavorful, non-alcoholic concoction that provides a nice balance for the spiced delicacies Chef Gordon presents.
The menu is simple and manageable, highlighting the best of Ben- nett’s island cuisine, including flavorful brown stew chicken (all the meat is seasoned the day before and allowed to marinate), oxtail with beans, curry goat, chicken or shrimp, and the ever-popular jerk pork and jerk chicken, all with flavors that pop yet don’t overwhelm. Chef Gordon combines scallions, thyme and bell peppers with Jamaican seasonings to give nearly every dish a spicy kick.
Flavorful grouper and red snapper are served in a variety of styles: brown stew, roasted, escovitch-style and stuffed with callaloo. Every en- trée comes with a hearty cup of soup, which changes daily (don’t miss Thursday’s red peas soup with beef and dumplings, which is a meal in itself), or salad and a choice of white rice, rice and peas or vegetables. It’s generous, home-cooked food that transports Jamaicans back to “the rock,” with prices and variety that allow multiple visits per week. Din- ner entrées start at $13, while lunch entrées begin at $10, with weekday lunch specials offered for $5.95. A Healthy Choice menu includes jerk chicken salad, wraps and chop suey with prices that range from $8 to $16.50. Weekends are for saltfish with ackee or callaloo, stew peas, and cornmeal or hominy porridge, which Bennett says will satisfy any ap- petite for an entire day.
New to Roun-A-Goosey is the Friday After Work Jam, with music from 6-9 p.m. indoors and al fresco on the patio, and Live Music Sun- days from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. with a variety of local artists, including the local Bush family, featured on the Today show and touted as “America’s most amazing family.”
It’s all part of the dream for Paul Bennett, who as a natural host and island ambassador, invites all to come Roun-a-Goosey..