By Aida Toro
With autumn being a couple of days away, many want to savor that last piece of summer, whether it be through a weekend trip down the shore, a final sip of Rose’ on the rooftop, or a meal at Harry’s Daughter, a Caribbean inspired gastropub.
Harry’s Daughter is located in the Bergen-Lafayette sector of Jersey City and opened in November of 2017. Jersey City is a city in the Garden State’s Hudson County, which has changed a lot throughout the years as more creatives migrate into the area and restaurants are launched. Ria Ramkissoon and Alasdair Cotter are the masterminds behind Harry’s Daughter.
“We live in the area so we didn’t even know what the area was like because all we would do is go to work and come back,” said Ramkissoon. “I love the area because it’s so close to Liberty State Park and it feels like a beach town and it just feels very remote yet close to the city.”
Ramkissoon and Cotter both worked in the restaurant industry for quite a while and decided to finally go their own path by opening up Harry’s Daughter.
“We’ve put our life savings and blood, sweat, and tears into building the business,” said Ramkissoon. “Neither one of us wanted to continue to work for other people and the itch was getting stronger and stronger so we bit the bullet.”
Prior to working in the hospitality industry, Ramkissoon had graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.) and was a prominent fashion designer whose work was featured in publications such as Glamour, Women’s Wear Daily, and Essence. She was also a speaker at the TEDx Port of Spain Conference. Cotter, on the other hand, concentrated in acting in Ireland and Italy. Even though he was acting, Cotter was tending at the bar as he was raised in the hospitality industry. He began gaining knowledge and tending at the bar at his family’s bar in Ireland, following with managing a couple of the Big Apple’s busiest drinkeries. Overall, Cotter has over 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry.
The duo named the gastropub after Ramkissoon’s father and was inspired by her love for the cuisine and aura of her upbringing in Trinidad and Tobago. When walking into the gastropub, you’ll seriously feel as if you are on a tropical vacation since there is a quaint coconut truck in the back and the walls are covered with a wallpaper containing a palm tree like design while woven basket lights designed by Ramkissoon hang from the ceiling. While Ramkissoon did all of the designing for the basket lights, they were actually made by the visually impaired in the Port of Spain of Trinidad. To add on, there is a little lounge area with swinging chairs, which were inspired by Ramkissoon’s stay at the Standard Hotel in Miami, since the hotel has swinging chairs as well. Of course, the bar at the gastropub is very eye-catching because it is an old deco bar that has been in the space since the 1930s.
Even though it feels like a vacation at Harry’s Daughter, there is coziness in there as well, which is perfect for the upcoming fall and winter seasons. On my visit, Ramkissoon and Cotter were so welcoming and chill. At the gastropub, you’ll hear tunes performed by Frank Sinatra all the way to Bob Marley. Of course, I started off with Scotch Bonnet Honey Wings for my appetizer. Scotch Bonnet is a variation of chili peppers named for its resemblance to a tam o' shanter hat which is native to the Caribbean islands. Wings are always a go-to, especially during the fall and winter due to football season’s arrival and let me state that these wings were the epitome of sweet and spicy, but most importantly, mouthwatering. When biting into a Scotch Bonnet Honey wing from Harry’s Daughter, you’ll taste the sweetness first then breath out the smoke from the spiciness. Afterward, I cooled off my palate by sipping on Ria’s Rum Punch while I waited for my Jerk Chicken and Pumpkin Rice plate and Peri Peri Shrimp.
The Jerk Chicken hit the spot as it was seasoned with spices such as cinnamon, cayenne pepper, allspice, sugar, and so much more. The Jerk Chicken and Pumpkin Rice is such a comforting meal for the autumn and winter because these seasons are all about pumpkins, spices, and everything nice. As for the Peri Peri Shrimp, it is seasoned with garlic, lime, and chili pepper seasoning with a herb butter which is spread on a slice of sourdough bread. The Peri Peri Shrimp is savory because what better combination than garlic, lime, and herb butter with a hint of spice?
Now with the autumn arriving, Ramkissoon mentioned that the staff is working on adding some items for the Fall Brunch menu, with one of the items possibly being a gluten-free plantain waffle. If you ever end up in Jersey City’s Bergen-Lafayette area, do not hesitate to stop by Harry’s Daughter. Whether it be winter, spring, summer, or fall, Ramkissoon and Cotter will make your visit at Harry’s Daughter worthwhile.