With all this talk of Rio we have developed a new found appreciation for all things rum. With Notting Hill Carnival fast approaching (27th-29th August) what better way to get in the laid-back spirit than with a round-up of the best Caribbean spots for a cooling mojito or hot plate of jerk chicken? Some are more Tiki or tropical than ‘Caribbean’ but all will transport you somewhere far more exotic.
The Rum Kitchen
What: Brixton's Latest Addition
Why: Brixton is no stranger to jerk chicken so you could see The Rum Kitchen choosing to open their latest restaurant there as either bonkers or genius. Luckily, it seems to have been a genius decision (and long overdue) to give South Londoners a taste of the Caribbean rum shack which can be found in Notting Hill, Camden and Kingly Court. Try the jerk bowl with selection of house sauces if you dare. If the scotch bonnet mayo proves a bit much, a Happy Daiquiri will calm you down.
Where: 443-445 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, SW9 8LN
What: Rhum Shack and Restaurant
Why: Cottons has been a favourite spot in Camden and Shoreditch and now it has just opened in Notting Hill too, bringing with it punchy trademark cocktails, more jerk than you can dream of and even a glossary of terminology in case you need to double check what plantain or callallo is. Plantain is a green banana and callalloo is a green vegetable similar to spinach, FYI.
Where: Camden, Shoreditch, Notting Hill
Fish, Wings n Tings
What: Real Caribbean Cooking
Why: Surely the name alone is enough of a reason to pay Brixton’s Fish, Wings n Tings a visit? If not then the food is. A concise menu with highlights of curry goat and crumbly roti breads explain why it’s packed most evenings. If it gives you the urge to spice up your bland cooking, swing by any of Brixton’s market stalls on your way home for scotch bonnets, plantain and other intriguing vegetables to bring the Caribbean to the capital. Shame about the weather.
Where: 96 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, SW9 8PS
What: The UK's Largest Selection of Jamaican Rum
Why: Last year, Dalston’s already colourful food scene got a little bit more so once Rudie’s set up shop. The rum bar is home to the UK’s largest Jamaican rum selection which they shake up into Old Fashioneds and fiery punches – it even makes an appearance in a sticky rum cake. Traditional street food including curry goat dumplings is served with their signature 24-hour marinated jerk chicken.
Where: 50 Stoke Newington Road, Dalston, N16 7XB
What: Jamaican Burgers
Why: Owner Josh was raised in Jamaica’s sunny Montego Bay and has done all of us a favour by bringing a taste of his auntie’s sizzling jerk chicken to his Notting Hill burger joint. served in red plastic bowls, the food does all the talking here – just as well because your mouth will be full so no talking there. The signature Boom burger is smothered in melty cheesy and bacon jam, whilst more exotic combos include the red snapper fish Boom and the jerk Boom; jerk chicken with fried plantain, rocket, mango and pawpaw sauce. Order a side of plantain fries and jerk wings if you’re particularly hungry.
Where: 272 Portobello Road Notting Hill, W10 5TY
What: Rum Den in Notting Hill
Why: Trailer Happiness lounge bar, den and kitchen offer all the classic Tiki cocktails you’d expect as well as originals developed by their mixologists. As well as regular DJ nights, the first Monday of every month sees industry rum experts gather for tastings and talks to educate (and mildly intoxicate) rum lovers. Who said Mondays were boring?
Where: 177 Portobello Road, Notting Hill, W11 2DY
Trader Vic's London
Hyde Park Corner (0.3 miles)
What: Home of the Mai Tai
Why: Think ‘tropical’ and you probably think of Trader Vic’s. Home of the Mai Tai, founder Victor Bergeron created in way back in 1944 and now with over 2 million Mai Tai’s sold globally each year, your choice of drink should be pretty straightforward. The food menu is more varied, with influences from the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Asia and Japan.
Where: 22 Park Lane, London
What: Island Life in Fulham
Why: Fulham can be described as a lot of things but ‘tropical’ isn’t one of them… Until now. Kona Kai is all palm leaf walls and shell lampshades – you wouldn’t look out of place in a grass skirt. The bar boasts over 100 different types of rum and cocktails are made with fresh fruit to avoid being sickly sweet. Use it as a starting spot for your night or visit on a Saturday when it stays open until 2.30am.
Where: 515 Fulham Road, Fulham, SW6 1HD