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nelumbo

Unforgettable Flavors, Jamaican Cafe Hidden in Seven Springs Apartment Complex in College Park - Chef Neville Nugent Has Departed for Laurel - Closed until Mar 1, 2018

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This one is in the running for strangest location. Turn in to the Seven Springs Apartment complex on Cherry Hill Road, drive back past several high rise buildings until you reach the large central pond/rec center, and look for the apartment building facing the pond that has a neon "OPEN" sign in one of the small windows at the garden level. This is the "mall" for the large complex, including a convenience store and this small Jamaican cafe.  We parked with no problems in the nearby parking area, although a sign at the complex entrance says that permits are required.

The cafe consists of maybe half a dozen small tables, a counter with stools along one wall, and a large sofa presumably for folks waiting for carry-out. There is a glass case that seemed to house a small selection of baked goods - late Saturday night, they were down to lemon cake, but I think they sometimes have various cupcakes as well.

The menu is relatively brief but wide ranging. They have a selection of breakfast items including both standard fare such as pancakes as well as jerk chicken omelets and ackee & saltfish. The lunch/dinner menu includes several jerk options, oxtail stew, cow foot stew, several varieties of wraps, pasta with a Jamaican twist, and salads (including jerk chicken salad). There are multiple vegetarian options, including pastas and stews.

The service was extremely friendly. After placing our orders, we were given small mugs with complimentary samples of an off-menu multi-bean soup which was very tasty. Our dishes came out a short time later, delivered in person by the chef. I ordered the jerk chicken with sides of plantains and curry cabbage. The chicken was very juicy and tender with a flavorful sauce, mildly spicy. The curry cabbage was on the spicier side with a strong curry flavor; the plantains were thinly sliced and were cooked differently than I usual - possibly roasted or baked?  I also tried a small piece of a friend's sweet and sour chicken, which seemed to be fried chicken in a tangy sauce, not dissimilar from what you might find at a Chinese restaurant.

The jerk style is different here than at, say Just Jerk (which has a big grill) - there, you get a quarter chicken that is very distinctly grilled. This chicken here was more tender and with a clarity of the jerk seasonings but less of a strong grilled taste. There are a number of interesting items on the menu, so I will probably be back to check out more of them (hmmm, oxtail stew...), the full menu can be found on their website: http://www.unforgettableflavors.com/

The cafe is closed Sunday and Monday. Bathrooms are in the hallway, you will need to ask for a key. There was also a writeup last summer in the Washington Post, which I completely missed as it was in the Going Out Guide.

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This one is in the running for strangest location. Turn in to the Seven Springs Apartment complex on Cherry Hill Road, drive back past several high rise buildings until you reach the large central pond/rec center, and look for the apartment building facing the pond that has a neon "OPEN" sign in one of the small windows at the garden level. This is the "mall" for the large complex, including a convenience store and this small Jamaican cafe.  We parked with no problems in the nearby parking area, although a sign at the complex entrance says that permits are required.

oh my- I lived in that complex my senior year of college.  I won't say how many years ago.  haven't been out that way in many years but sounds like it's worth taking a ride.

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After placing our orders, we were given small mugs with complimentary samples of an off-menu multi-bean soup which was very tasty. 

You have to get the coco bread here. For less than $2, you get a plate full of soft, buttery, slightly sweet little rolls hot from the oven. These pair perfectly with the complimentary soup, so much so that I ended up with one last bite of bread to soak up the very last drops of soup from the cup. Easily some of the best bread I've had in recent memory.

I agree with your take on the jerk chicken. Very tender and flavorful, served in a pool of sauce and with no real trace of grilling. I had the curry spinach and mac and cheese, and both were good. The mac and cheese used penne pasta and the cheese was on the runny side. The vegetarian stew was cooked well, but the flavor was pretty similar to the curry spinach and, well, on the forgettable side. The pineapple ginger juice tasted exactly like you'd imagine if you combined those two ingredients and added a bunch of sugar. Still, one of the best meals I've had around College Park and yet another place I wish existed or I had known about when I was going to school there.

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Had no idea this place existed until a work friend suggested we try it for lunch. Having now been there I am excited this place is so close to my office. Nelumbo did a nice job of describing the place so I will keep this brief. I had the curry chicken with curried cabbage and plantains. Also got to taste a bite of my friend's jerk chicken. Everything was excellent. The jerk chicken was oddly spicier than my curry chicken despite me ordering mine "spicy" and my friend ordering his "medium". I'm not sure if they got them mixed up or more likely just didn't believe me. They did automatically bring out a side of hot sauce for me in case I didn't find it spicy enough. The hot sauce was definitely spicy but also had a really good flavor - not just burn your mouth so you can't taste anything hot. I'd actually like to be able to buy that stuff by the bottle. Cabbage was nicely firm rather than the overcooked mush I've had in other places.

We did wait a long time for our food, but the chef was out to our table several times, including to let us know it would only be a few more minutes for our food when some time had passed. In fact, he literally hopped around and waved to greet me when I came in (the kitchen is a bit elevated and he's back behind a bit of a wall so the hopping was so I would see him :P). I would want to come to this place simply because of the owners, but the food was excellent and for $10 + tip I left stuffed.

This is definitely going into my regular lunch rotation. I would also love to get here to try the breakfast, which they only do on Friday and Saturday mornings fyi.

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Less than a mile from ikea. Wonderful food. Nice service. Wish I had ordered extra for leftovers. Still in weird location. 

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4 hours ago, NolaCaine said:

Less than a mile from ikea. Wonderful food. Nice service. Wish I had ordered extra for leftovers. Still in weird location. 

Every time I see a post "like this," I hesitate to open it, for fear that it's announcing a closure - that's why I procrastinate and fall behind, because I don't always have time to update the Dining Guide.

I'm *very* glad to have read what you wrote.

Yeah, Seven Springs apartments is an area I know well, and for a restaurant to be in there is weird.

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Don: It's alive and well.  I think regulars are called "boss".  Two "bosses" came in while we were and three other non-"boss"es. 

I"m now on a keyboard so can be a bit more specific.  We were greeted and walked through the menu while sipping a sample of the chicken and bean soup, which is what I opted to eat for lunch.  My husband ordered goat curry with a side of cabbage and rice & beans. It was so wonderful that I ate a full forth and that's when I wished that I had ordered something to take home.

The only downside is that meal prep took a solid 15-20 minutes, time we didn't really have so we took the rest home.  Each menu item can be altered. for example, if you want fish in your goat curry, that can be accommodated. 
Oh, and the beef pastry thingy was wonderful. I wish I had take a 4-pack home.  Finally, the home-made smoothie wasn't over-sweet which appeals to me.

If I lived there, or anywhere near, I would be a regular; it was that good and the menu that interesting.  I live in Arlington so I won't make a trip but it's on my IKEA jaunt list for sure.

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1 hour ago, NolaCaine said:

Don: It's alive and well.  I think regulars are called "boss".  Two "bosses" came in while we were and three other non-"boss"es. 

That's very Jamaican. :)

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Thanks for posting. Last time I went I was devastated to find they were closed. Maybe they were just remodeling. Will have to get over there soon. I work 5 minutes away but tend to forget it's there.

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On 1/13/2018 at 12:44 PM, nelumbo said:

I live nearbyish and eat in College Park fairly regularly just for convenience. There has been a lot of turnover in the past 5+ years. These are the places that I can recall offhand, working vaguely north to south down Rt 1:

Unforgettable Flavors, listed as temporarily closed online? one of the better Jamaican places in the area, odd location in Seven Springs Apartments

Here's some interesting news for both you and Pool Boy. When you say "temporarily closed online," where do you mean? Do you have recent knowledge of Unforgettable Flavors still being open, or something to the contrary (this will save me a *long* drive).

Screenshot 2018-01-14 at 12.59.36.png

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The attached image shows what comes up on google, " Unforgettable Flavors Cafe is in transition and has temporarily closed the cafe until March 1 2018. You can see Chef Neville at Mad Cow Grill Restaurant, 310 Domer Ave Laurel MD in the Laurel Shopping center, next door to CVS. The company will continue to provide catering services with Chef Neville. Call 240-582-7831 for your catering needs."

There is also this article on the Mad Cow Grill:

https://www.beltsvillenewstoday.com/single-post/2017/09/30/Mad-Cow-Grill-Restaurant-Opening-This-Fall-in-Nearby-Laurel

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 1.36.58 PM.png

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