Sun | Oct 24, 2021
STREET EATZ

Early Morning Restaurant never misses a beat

Published:Thursday | July 8, 2021 | 12:07 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
A neatly boxed meal of curried chicken, steamed callaloo on top of boiled food with a side of fried ripe plantain would satisfy any Jamaican breakfast craving.
A neatly boxed meal of curried chicken, steamed callaloo on top of boiled food with a side of fried ripe plantain would satisfy any Jamaican breakfast craving.
A menu at the entrance of Cross Road Shopping Centre hints at a restaurant inside.
A menu at the entrance of Cross Road Shopping Centre hints at a restaurant inside.
Early Morning Restaurant takes pride in its steamed callaloo.
Early Morning Restaurant takes pride in its steamed callaloo.
Curried chicken makes for a good breakfast or lunch says the owner of Early Morning Restaurant.
Curried chicken makes for a good breakfast or lunch says the owner of Early Morning Restaurant.
Irvin Thaxter welcomes customers with a smile.
Irvin Thaxter welcomes customers with a smile.
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A stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of Cross Roads is a chef that rises with the sun and readies his kitchen for the morning rush hour. Breakfast at Irvin Thaxter’s Early Morning Restaurant can be sold out at a moment’s notice. Located in the Cross Roads Shopping Centre, Thaxter serves up food “that takes the people back to the countryside, where the aroma of fresh seasoning being cooked on an open [fire] fills the air from every corner”.

Inside the restaurant, phones could be heard ringing off the hook with customers, more than likely regulars, requesting the ‘veggie delight’, which Thaxter said is the restaurant best breakfast seller, along with the stewed chicken. “It’s a mix of chocho, carrot, cabbage or any vegetables that I have with salt fish. Sometimes, when it just about ready to serve, I put in some mixed vegetables so the person that eating it see it live,” Thaxter told Food.

The restaurant owner and chef is lively himself and maintains a big smile on his face, even though he is tired from being awake for several hours doing meal prep for breakfast and lunch. “The hours change up but breakfast always ready by 7 a.m., sometimes before. With my second, Jason Canegan, we have been able to do delivery around the area – the banks, the hardware stores, and other businesses order from here.”

Early Morning Restaurant has been in operation for the past 15 years – Thaxter, who is self-taught, had taken control of the business when his uncle Leroy Cohen migrated.

“The end of 2021 will make 10 years since I have been here,” he said, adding that, “persons should come and try [the] food because it tastes great, it is affordable, and [they] offer impeccable customer service.”

The dine-in option is currently not offered, but social distancing and wearing of masks are enforced, plus there are reminders displayed all over the walls of what used to be the dining area. On the day Food swung by the breakfast hotspot – approximately two hours after the doors opened – the only items left from the menu were curried chicken and steamed callaloo, served with boiled green banana, dumplings and fried plantain. The meals were still steaming hot and fresh, seasoned the right way, and the callaloo was cooked to perfection. He also pre-cut the boiled dumplings for ease of eating.

Lunchtime is also hectic, he said, noting that it is not just a breakfast food service. He has also expanded into catering for events, and his offerings are just as diverse. “The menu is not only Jamaican; I do everything from fried chicken to brown stew sliced fish to Chinese dishes like Mallah chicken. I will never forget the first thing I cooked was stew pig ears and pig ‘seed’ as a young boy in Manchester,” Thaxter shared. “Many persons would be surprised (about cooking pig ‘seed’), but you learn to live and manage the streets — cooking in the country in cheese pan — and my friends would eat what I cook too. On some days, customers can get natural juices, made here too,” he continued.

stephanie.lyew@gleanerjm.com