Updated: Oct 10, 2019
Take-outs and take-away eateries are a staple in Bahamian culture. So much so that you can find one throughout these islands and on just about every street corner in Nassau.
The newest take-out on the block—on the corner of Wilton and Mackey Street to be precise, is ‘Da Bush Cook, serving burgers bigger than your palm, shrimp and grits for breakfast and fettuccine drizzled with crusted parmesan and red pepper flakes (if you’re feelin’ spicy).
After considerable success with his catering company, Flavors, chef Corey Small decided to try his hand at whipping up restaurant-quality cuisine from a take-out window. Since opening the eatery less than a year ago, the chef’s short staff have served up to 300 plates per day and 500 plates over the weekend. Relying mostly on word-of-mouth and social media, the seven-car parking lot is almost always packed.
“Take-out, for me, is doing a different flair,” says Chef Corey. “We haven’t even had time for an official grand opening yet.”
‘Da Bush Cook menu feature dishes that are seasoned to taste, meaning there is no need for salt or pepper, and the ingredients consist of no MSG.
For breakfast, treat your taste buds to a variety of southern soul foods, like chicken and waffles, or classic American starters like omelets, stuffed with mushrooms, bacon bits, spinach, ham and turkey. Foodies from as far away as Florida have raved about ‘Da Bush Cook breakfast menu.
His signature dish, the surf ‘n turf burger, is a massive piece of work. No Adobe Photoshop here. It’s so big, it’s served in halves and you still need both hands. With all the fixings of a cheeseburger—veggies, thick beef patty, etc.—this is stacked with lightly breaded, ground shrimp. Adorned with parmesan fries and pepper flakes, the duo will extinguish any ‘hungry belly’ pains.
There are three burgers on the menu that I’ve tried since my first visit (don’t judge me!), and besides the surf and turf, my second favorite is the Buddy Burger. Recently introduced in honor of Bahamian NBA rookie, ‘Buddy’ Hield, this burger has the same juicy flavor as the surf ‘n turf, except instead of shrimp, it has crack conch and an onion ring. Although I’m not a super fan of the onion ring, it is not the star of this sandwich especially if you spread spicy mayo on your bun.
The burgers, the wings and all the other traditional staples of the take-out joint are not to be outdone, except probably by the pastas on the menu. Say it with me: fett-u-ccine. God bless the carbs and bless Chef Corey for serving them just how we like it—tender pasta with thick, creamy sauce, spiced just right (you have the option of mild or spicy).
You can get this pasta three ways—with chicken, conch or shrimp. My first dive into this bountiful portion of pasta was with succulent shrimp. It was so good, I had to share it with a friend, because no one would believe me if I told them this fettuccine puts the Toowamba pasta to shame. Right? The conch fettuccine is just as satisfying, with conch drenched in seasoning that will burst into your mouth with flavor.
So, fries and pasta doesn’t really work for you? Well, there are healthy options at ‘Da Bush Cook, too! And, these are no boring salads. Like the land ‘n sea salad with fresh veggies, juicy shrimp and the chef’s own vinaigrette drizzled on top. If you’re like me and love a little bit of sweet on your salad, you’ll love ‘Da Bush Cook salad with crispy greens, shredded carrots, purple cabbage, plump cherry tomatoes and grilled pineapple. Yum!
‘Da Bush Cook admits that it has received only one bad review. All dishes are cooked to order and some patrons have complained about the wait time. To curve this, the team is encouraging its regulars to order by phone ahead of time, as early as 10 a.m. for lunch.
Asked why he thought the eatery had experienced such great success so early, chef Corey Small gave credit for his cooking style and presentation.
“We’ve knocked it out the park when it comes to style and presentation. When you go to a regular take-out you know just what you’ll get, but when you open our plate it’s always that wow factor,” Chef Corey explains.
Foodies like myself have seen young restaurateurs open their doors and experience great success with what seemed to be a growing clientele only to later have their doors shut for good. However, Chef Corey says consistency and knowing your market is what will ensure ‘Da Bush Cook does not fall to the same fate, which is something he teaches his staff.
“For small businesses, the first five years are always the hardest because you’re trying to build clientele, but also consistent clientele and Bahamians get bored very quickly. On the other hand, you have Wendy’s and McDonald’s that’s been around since I was growing up, but the difference is you always know what you’re getting from them and it’s also fast (service) and they fluctuate the market so it’s near to you,” he explains.
“We have a loyal clientele because we have clients coming from Gladstone Road, Carmichael and as far as Adelaide, but they’re not going to come every day. So, that’s why when they come we try to show that we appreciate them for coming.”
The next goal: a second location that would allow ‘Da Bush Cook to introduce its flavors to more food lovers and bring its food closer to regulars.