Thursday, 16 January 2014

The Rum Kitchen

I hate rum. I've hated it since drinking Malibu & coke as a teenager, with it's gorgeously chic white bottle, the sunset palm tree logo, it was the coolest thing to sit in a park and drink while waiting to be sick. Rum sick, nose rum sick.
Other memories of rum include Ron Amazona, a foul tasting almost black liquid I once drank with coffee at dawn in a cafe on holiday in Magaluf. Apparently this rum is so foul, it is only to be drunk in this way.

My unwowness over cocktails is also no secret. I simply cannot get it out of my utterly cynical head that they are not only an obvious massive rip-off, but a vulgar, silly and attention-seeking rip-off, which turns the drinker into a bar version of The Fast Show's Colin Hunt, with a brightly coloured clown of a drink which screams 'I don't go out often'.
I'm far more happy with the 'half a lager for Rodney' than Del Boy's umbrella and sparkler topped rum classic the piña colada, and £8.50 is a lot to pay for what is essentially a nicely presented slightly alcoholic can of Lilt, however you see it.  Piña Colada I have recently learned, simply means 'strained pineapple'. Case rested.

So you can imagine my cartwheels of joy when I heard that a bar and restaurant devoted to rum based cocktails was about to open in Soho.

The Rum Kitchen is already established in Notting Hill, where boys like the three marijuana dealers in Lock Stock probably hang out, as it reminds them of their holidays in Mustique. I've heard it's quite good actually. And Caribbean food has the enviable thing of just sounding delicious. That constant mixture of acidic fruit and spice. Everything's going to taste good, isn't it?

So off I went the other night to have a taste. It was one of those 'blogger previews' (I hope) and I'd been promised a free meal, which also explains why I feel obliged to not just write about it, but write nicely about it. Which, in this case, isn't difficult, because I liked The Rum Kitchen. More than I've liked the last few openings* (House of Ho, Ape & Bird, Oslo, Blackfoot, Kench & Bibesy - all of which have been ok, but nothing to really write about) and more than I think than any Caribbean restaurant I've ever been to, which isn't hard as I've only been to about three and I can't even remember what their names were.



Here's the run-down of what we ate, which was all perfectly lovely.

RUBIN CARTER: Dark rum, passion fruit & tropical juices
Saltfish fritters, grilled lime & chili jam
According to our waitress, this starter is the national dish of Jamaica: Saltfish fritters.
The combination of the fish and chili jam was great. Crispy and tender at the same time.

I normally never order squid as I can't bear that awful feeling that you are actually eating a chewy rubber hair band, but here the squid were perfectly tender, it was a pleasure to eat.
The aioli sauce packs a punch.
Only disappointment: if you don't eat them quickly, the batter goes a bit soggy.


Island Spiced Squid, scotch bonnet aioli



Rum kitchen Sauces

All sauces at Rum Kitchen were good, my fave was the Scotch bonnet mayo.
Jerk fried chicken burger, scotch bonnet mayo, chili jam & slaw
Jerk fried chicken thighs, shoe-string onion rings, pineapple slaw, rum jerk bbq ketchup
My friend and I ordered two dishes with Jerk fried chicken.
Jerk Chicken was amazing on its owns (thighs), the burger was fine too but I think lettuce and bun is over-egging the custard a little as it overwhelmed the taste and the texture of this delicious crispy dish. But then I suppose without it it wouldn't have been a burger.
Pineapple slaw was pretty good and useful to calm down all the spice in my mouth.
Plantain & chill dip
As a side with our main, we had plantain. I like plantain but in small quantities as it is a bit sweet for me.


PAINKILLER: pussers Navy rum, coconut & pineapple & RUM SOUR: Chris Blackwell's fantastic rum simply mixed with lemon, sugar & egg white
 I'd say Rum Kitchen is the perfect backdrop for a casual meet-up with a bunch of friends, and would make a good first date venue, as the wacky interior creates a great diversion from painful stilted conversation. 

*As I write this, I have just been for lunch at Blanchette, a little French place which knocks every new opening in the last week into a cocked hat as far as I'm concerned.

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