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May 21, 2024
BROADWAY EATS with Jelani Remy

The Back to the Future notable shares his favorite food spots before or after a show. 

Though we understand their circumstances may have been a bit different, like Oliver and his clan of orphan boys, we’ve all fallen into a daze dreaming of “food, glorious food” at one point or another.

After all, it’s been said that food is the great equalizer, connecting us and bringing us together, either with family or friends, colleagues or companions, or any others from all walks of life, to dine often at a communal table or gathering space wherein we share stories and reveal the most authentic parts of ourselves.

In our continued effort, however, to find our way into others’ hearts (and stomachs!), sometimes it helps to venture beyond our tables and into the kitchens of others — especially in a city with such a diversified abundance of eateries as New York.

And of course, you can’t spell “theatre” without “eat.”

So, in our food-based series, we continue to poll some of the Great Bright Way’s best to “dish” (get it?) on where they love to eat, drink, and take in the vibes either pre- or post-show, while also answering why they love to sup there, sharing a favorite dish or two, and more.

Photo courtesy of Polk and Co.

Today, we turn to the talented Jelani Remy, who, as ambitious Goldie Wilson in the newly Tony-nominated Back to the Future: The Musical, reminds us “You Gotta Start Somewhere” in order to achieve your destiny. 

In addition to his turn in the intergalactic tuner, where he also doubles as bandleader Marvin Berry, he’s also enjoyed stints as Simba in The Lion King and as Eddie Hendricks in Ain’t Too Proud. Regional and Off-Broadway credits include High School Musical and Smokey Joe’s Café, among others.

But where does Remy recommend for a nosh?


Hold Fast Kitchen & Spirits

(364 W 46th St.)

“A New York bar that feels like home,” reads one review of this rustic Restaurant Row bar, a fairly new establishment full of cozy comfort, character and charm.

 Co-owned by longtime Hell’s Kitchen residents Shane Hathaway and Jason Clark, the restaurant prides itself on “serving with a smile,” offering up delicious drinks and top-notch food, with reasonable prices considering its prime Midtown location.

 “We’re both fortunate enough to live and work in this neighborhood,” says Hathaway, “so we wanted to create a place for our community,” said Hathaway. The two aimed to establish a mutually beloved place, whether customers were traveling long distances into New York from another city, state or even country… or just wandering in from down the block. 

Locals laud the electric atmosphere, lightning-fast service, and an overall aura that makes you feel like you’re in a second home.

A hidden gem seemingly tucked away from the Midtown bustle – while still remaining convenient to locals – it’s “perfect for anyone looking to escape the everyday chaos of NYC,” touts Remy.

Photos courtesy of Hold Fast Kitchen & Spirits

While the menu is fairly standard, boasting typical bar fare and casual eats, Remy raves about the Hold Fast Wings, served with carrots for dipping and drizzled with signature house white sauce (though he prefers the sauce on the side), and the tacos (GF), available with pork, steak, blackened shrimp, or ahi tuna, and a variety of fix-ins that perfectly complement each filling. (“It’s my go-to simply because it is just that good!” Remy asserts). 

If you come for the weekend brunch (Saturday, Sunday, and recently extended into Monday hours), the chicken and waffles is a must-have, with either dry rub wings or boneless thighs, topped with bourbon-soaked pecans, maple syrup and whipped cream, or the creamy crème brûlée French Toast, served with a side of fresh fruit.

“The food is great, and so’s the vibe,” Remy summarizes. “I promise you’ll try it [once] and you’ll keep coming back for more… and you’ll always find a familiar face while you’re there.”  

What’s more? Hold Fast lives up to the many possible meanings of its name. “In military terms or war times,” Hathaway explains, “Hold Fast means ‘stand your ground, hold your position.’ In naval terms, it would be ‘hold fast to the line.’”

More a poet than a war buff, Clark likens the phrase to a line from a Langston Hughes poem – “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly” – but for both men, the meaning remains the same: “Stay true to yourself,” they reiterate. “Stand your ground. Be true to who you are.”

And in opening up a restaurant that truly embraces its diverse clientele, that’s exactly what they did.

Hold Fast Kitchen & Spirits is open Monday-Friday from 12pm-2am, and Saturday & Sunday from 11am-2am.

Jasmine’s Caribbean Cuisine

(371 W 46th St.)

“Good Caribbean food is a treasure to find,” Remy remarks, especially due to its scarcity in such a melting pot as New York City, but he assures you the offerings at Jasmine’s Caribbean Cuisine on Restaurant Row – a stone’s throw from Hold Fast – can’t be beat.

From the start, “the decór alone makes you feel like you’re on vacation,” he continues, noting the walls splashed in shades of ocean blue, seafoam green and sunset orange. “But the incredible food is the real trip.” 

“Our intent is to provide you with delectable authentic meals, an abundance of culture, and a feast for your senses,” reads the restaurant’s mission statement, on the subject. With a goal of “spreading love through an immersive culinary and cultural experience,” each dish is inspired by a different island through the Caribbean, hailing from Dominica, Antigua, St. Thomas, Trinidad, and Jamaica.

Photos courtesy of Jasmine’s Caribbean Cuisine

Aiming to inject New York City with a similar flair, U. S. Virgin Islands native – and first-time restaurateur – Jasmine Gerald opened her namesake restaurant with her husband, Lloyd Hollie, in late 2020 following the lockdown. In early 2021, she appointed Basil Jones as executive chef, who brought with him his signature Rasta Pasta – here dubbed “jazzy pasta” in honor of the eatery’s namesake – a recipe honed at Brooklyn’s Caribbean Footprints Café since 2001. The dish, which Jones originated, features penne pasta doused in a luscious, creamy sauce infused with jerk-style chiles and seasoning. It’s topped with tricolor peppers and carrots for a distinctive fruity crunch and finished with basil and a healthy dusting of Parmesan cheese. (For more heat, add jerk chicken for an additional charge.) 

For Remy, it’s all about the Coconut Shrimp, generously encrusted, and served with a tangy tamarind dipping sauce, and the Peppa Shrimp, stewed in a rich, red, aromatic broth, and mouthwateringly spicy in taste. 

Rest assured, whatever dish you choose, your taste buds will be tantalized with the allure of the island’s flavors… and, in turn, its vibrancy, energy, and culture.

But, as Gerald asserts, it’s love that permeates it all – “one gathering, one interaction, one meal at a time.”

Jasmine’s Caribbean Cuisine is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday-Thursday from 4pm-10:30pm, Friday from 4pm-11:30pm, Saturday from 2pm-11:30pm, and Sunday from 2pm-10:30pm.

We’ll continue to present a new performer with new restaurants and new menus, so keep checking back to see who we poll and what’s on their mind at mealtime! Until next time, as always, bon appétit!

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