The Handbook
The Handbook

Last week The Handbook went over to the Jam Tree in Clapham Old Town, to get into the Carribean spirit, at their Jamaica Jamaica pop up.

The pub was getting into the mood with Jamaican flags and waiters dressed in bright yellow t-shirts, but where was the reggae sound track? Perhaps Bob Marley was having a night off.  After being seated, we ordered a couple of cocktails, the Usain Bolt, a mix of rum, Jamaican Sorrel and champagne and the wonderfully named Shabba Ranks: rum, Koko Kanu, ginger and marmalade. We weren’t in any rush, wanting to spend a lazy evening in the sun, but had we been, the rather long wait for the cocktails of about half an hour might have been more of an issue, in fact the service was rather slow throughout and we were often asked the same questions several times before anything was brought to us.

But still with the cocktails having arrived we ordered, we opted for the salt cod fritters which came with a hot sauce mayonnaise and the chargrilled jerked pineapple, with glazed goats cheese, roasted red peppers and rum laced onion marmalade. Both were delicious, the salt cod fritters were light, crispy with just the right amount of saltiness, choose this if you are looking for a lighter starter. The stack of pineapple, goats cheese, peppers and marmalade was indulgent, creamy and full of flavour, it was perhaps the winner of the whole evening for us.

Having been told that the dishes were not too spicy, we were surprised at just how hot the dish was, it felt almost medicinal, with eyes and nose streaming we worked our way through the fried Snapper Escovitch with steamed cabbage, sweet potato puree, rice and peas  and the roti stuffed with curried lentils, yam and sweet potato. The Snapper Escovtich was perfectly cooked and the puree was delicious, sweet, smooth and the perfect antidote to the spiciness of the rice. The coleslaw it also came with was cool, light and actually one of the best coleslaws we had come across.

The roti was even spicier than the fish and whilst we did enjoy it the spiciness was almost too overbearing in the dish, which detracted from it a little. Not wanting to miss out on the classic fried plantain, we ordered it as a side, and what arrived was just six chips, fine for us, but for those with an appetite nearer to Bolt’s then it would have been rather disappointing.

To finish we went for the rum soaked tropical fruit, mango sorbet and rum jelly and we loved it. The sorbet was light and very fruity, some of the best sorbet we had had in a while and worked well with the jelly which had hints of lime too it.

There were parts of the meal that we loved, the pudding, the salt cod fritters and the goats cheese and pineapple,  we had a lovely evening, we just needed a bit more reggae and a faster service!