New? Yes, this Notting Hill restaurant opened in April following the success of the Camden venue. There is another site in Shoreditch, too.
Where? 157-159 Notting Hill Gate, Notting Hill, W11 3LF cottons-restaurant.co.uk
On the menu: Traditional Caribbean cuisine and eclectic rum cocktails.
First Impressions: The venue is colourful without being tacky; it has a friendly relaxed feel to it with a jungle scene mural across one wall and a bar heavily stacked with rum attracting your eye.
The Look: There is a colourful vibe with a multi-coloured striped bar that greets you with high tables and bar stools around if you want to pop in just for a drink. This leads on to the middle dining area and then a large room in the back with a pretty wall mural depicting Jamaica’s natural beauty and a glass ceiling flooding the room with natural light which compliments the artwork.
What We Ate: The barbecue glazed pork belly with rum and molasses and pickled vegetables was so tender that it didn’t even require cutting, a little tap of the fork and it shredded perfectly. The Guyanese beef pepper pot with fondant potatoes was very good… again the beef was incredibly tender and rich. The only minor discrepancy was that there were limited potatoes but the beef was so nice it wasn’t that important. The vegetarian platter was a surprisingly delicious selection of roasted stuffed aubergine, grilled okra, stuffed peppers, battered courgette flower, squash, chana dhal and quinoa, and red pepper coulis. I was in awe of all the different flavours and spices that I didn’t recognise but instantly was enamoured with – my favourite was the courgette flower in a light tempura batter which melted in my mouth. It all came with a a cheesey, garlicky sauce that I happily poured over everything.
The Banana Napoleon consists of layers of filo pastry sheet, banana cream, coconut snow and tropical fruits sorbet which made for a light yet tasty finisher. The Chocolate Praline Bar is a chocolate cake with praline mousse, lemon curd and an iced bubble gum marshmallow which was another faultless dish.
What We Drank: The bar stocks the largest rum collection in the UK with over 300 varieties available so we knocked back a few cocktails at the bar before dinner but I found them all to be quite strong except the daiquiri – personal taste!
Go With: A group of friends or a date if you want an informal time.
Final Word: The food here is excellent; the flavours have been well-combined to make creative and interesting dishes, the vegetarian platter was a surprise winner due to the variation on offer – not a mushroom in sight. Dining here feels relaxed yet fun and there’s an interesting mix of diners plus it’s always reassuring to see people dining in a restaurant of their national cuisine.