No matter what the weather’s doing outside, it’s always sunny inside Rum Kitchen thanks to the brightly coloured interiors and punchy flavours. The menu is a mix of Caribbean classics, like jerk chicken, red snapper with spiced plantain and curry mutton, and mash-up dishes like roti pizza and jerk burgers. The drinks list is heavy on the rum, naturally, and some of the cocktails really do pack a punch. The Notting Hill branch stays open past 2am on Friday and Saturday nights, so you can ramp up the carnival atmosphere in their basement bar.
It’s all about simple, authentic Jamaican food made with love at this homely Brixton Hill spot – everything from the bean burgers and jerk sauces to cakes and fresh juices is made in-house, so you can be sure you’re getting the real deal. There’s also Ital food on the menu, which is the Rastafarian way of eating and is vegan, so there’s plenty for non-meat eaters to enjoy too. The service here is definitely relaxed so you may as well take your time and soak it up.
At Fish, Wings & Tings, chef Brian Danclair has drawn on both his Trinidadian heritage and French culinary training to create his own nouvelle Caribbean style of cookery. The codfish fritters and reggae wings have garnered quite the fanbase but the rotis, which come with string beans, pumpkin, potatoes, chickpeas and kuchela, are also excellent. Everything is absolutely packed with flavour but if you need a little extra hit, Danclair has also created some knockout sauces too.
If you want Jamaican food on the go, the Jamaica Patty Co. is the place to get it. As well as the traditional patty flavours of beef, chicken and vegetable, they’ve also created jerk chicken, curried goat and ackee and saltfish varieties, which are classic Jamaican dishes in their own right but not normally turned into patty form – they’re a great way to try the flavours if you’ve never had them before. Whichever patties you go for, be sure to also pick up a fresh soursop juice as you won’t find it at many other places in the country.
As well as mainstays like jerk chicken and oxtail stew, Cottons offers up a refined take on Caribbean food with dishes including sorrel honey duck, Anguillan garlic pork and callaloo & ackee risotto. And the food is only half the story; the original Camden site has one of the largest stocks of rum in the country, boasting over 300 different varieties, so you really can’t come to Cottons and not have at least one rum cocktail. Live steel drums and carnival dancers ensure the fun continues after the plates have been cleared away.
Owner Josh de Lissier, who was raised in Montego Bay, has brought his own piece of Jamaica to Portobello Road with Boom Burger. Instead of simply recreating the dishes of his home, he’s applied those spices and flavours to the humble burger. The result is combinations like the Fish Boom (fish of the day, escovitch sauce, chilli jam) and the Jerk Boom (jerk chicken, fried plantain, mango and pawpaw sauce), which sit alongside classic cheese and bacon burgers. There are fries, wings and salads available as side options but the burgers are definitely the stars here so focus on these first.
Jerk is at the heart of Rudie’s and they really do take it seriously – the meat, whether it’s chicken, pork belly or lamb rump, is marinated for 24 hours and cooked in proper jerk drums over coal and wood chips. As well as delivering Jamaican staples, the chefs have also been creative with a range of small plates, including calamari, peppered shrimps and mac ‘n’ cheese, a Jamaican-inspired brunch menu and an alternative Sunday roast, served with crispy roast yam, squash, sweetcorn and rum gravy. If you really want to take your Rudie’s experience up a notch, wash your food down with their signature (and very potent) Katch A Fire rum punch.
Opened by former The Apprentice contestant April Jackson, Brixton’s Three Little Birds serves up a menu of crowd-pleasing Jamaican small plates such as okra fries, mackerel rundown, curry goat and callaloo & coconut milk stew, and everything is reasonably priced too. It’s a great place to hang out over a couple of cocktails, rum based of course, or imported beers, and Three Little Birds also has its own boutique stocked with Jamaican condiments, coffee, clothing and accessories.