Negril, Howard University

There was a time when the Negril at (the now-demolished) Waterside Mall was the restaurant I’d frequent more than any other. I got to know the menu extremely well, and spent lots of time and energy convincing my friends to go out of their way for their “meat loaf” (a sloppy Joe-filled piece of coco bread) and “side order” (the curried chicken without the chicken).

Negril has become a small franchise, but the company is still owned by its founder, Earl Chinn. The meat loaf is off the menu (which is a crying shame), and the side order may be, too.

You just can’t go wrong here with the Beef Pattie ($1.85) or Vegetable Pattie ($1.75). In particular, the beef pattie’s deep golden-brown flaky pastry crust reminds me exactly of the way it was twenty years ago. The ingredients and style of these have changed a little bit, but they’re still pretty close to what I’d get at the old Negril. The vegetable pattie has always been very mild, and benefits from a dunking into a little tub of Matouk’s hot sauce. All pastries are baked in Negril’s central location in Laurel, MD, frozen, and then shipped off to the individual stores where they’re reheated in an oven (not a microwave).

As I was paying my bill, the Carrot Cake ($2.20) caught my eye. They cut me off a huge wedge from this bundt-styled version, topped with a cream cheese-based frosting. It didn’t have a ton of carrot strips, raisins, or nuts, but was a great cake – almost like a good, mild, super-moist spice cake. Negril has always has wonderful cookies and cakes – get this.

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