It’s Notting Hill Carnival time! The time of year when we parade the streets of West London, dance to calypso and reggae, and tuck into some ah-mazing Caribbean food. The smells of jerk chicken, rice and peas that wafts through the streets never fails to take me back to my Caribbean travels. But if you’re not at Carnival this weekend, or if you’re looking for some of the best Caribbean restaurants to dine in this weekend, here are 5 great Caribbean restaurants that I would highly recommend you try.
A Londoner’s Must-Try Caribbean Restaurants
Negril has to be first on my list, because it’s one of the first Caribbean restaurants I wrote about on this blog and it’s located in my own neighbourhood, on Brixton Hill. It has a basic yet colourful set up and the highlights include the tasty saltfish fritters and the fabulous half chicken sharing platters. These fantastic platters are served with plantain, rice and peas, salad, coleslaw and the best spicy sauces. It’s BYO and has a great buzzy vibe. Read the full review here.
Rudies is an uber trendy place along Stoke Newington Road where I was blown over by the tasty jerk chicken (and jerk pork). The servings are huge and personally, I think Rudies offers great value for money. Food is served with a bit more style than your usual frills-free Caribbean joint. So come here if you are looking for authentic but stylish Caribbean restaurants to try. You’ll be able to try a variety of informal West Indian cuisine with great attention to flavour. I highly recommend the saltfish and ackee bakes and the spicy banana pepper sauce.
The cocktail list is fantastic too (Cool Runnings is good) and the rum cake with rum ‘n’ raisin ice cream is out of this world. Read the full review here.
In my opinion, it can be tricky to nail upscale Caribbean dining. But I think Cottons in Notting Hill, just about succeeds without ruining the simplicity of West Indian food. There are three Cottons restaurants across London (one in Farringdon and another in Camden). And the setting in the Notting Hill restaurant is lively and colourful without being too obviously Caribbean. Come here if you’ve tried all the signature Caribbean dishes and you fancy trying a fusion à la carte twist (the seafood platter is great).
If you appreciate artistic and pretty presentation you will also love the incredible attention to detail at Cottons, with edible flowers, schmears and jellies all playing a part. Cottons has one of the largest rum collections in the UK and so it’s a tough job trying to pick from their fantastic cocktail menu. Oh, and it’s a bit of a celeb favourite – with the likes of Lily Allen partying here. Read the full review here.
Jamaica Patty Co.
Jamaica Patty Co is an independent patty shop in Covent Garden run by Jamaican-born Theresa Roberts and her English husband Andrew. It’s more of a take-away than a restaurant, but they do have a couple of seats in a tiny area downstairs where you can relax with a quick bite to eat.
Theresa is a perfectionist when it comes to quality and authenticity so patties here are as authentic as it gets. They’re a good size – perfect for a grab and go lunch – and when we visited, this West Indian staple was available in beef, curried goat and spicy chicken fillings.
One of the highlights of Jamaica Patty Co. is they serve Blue Mountain Coffee (which can be hard to find in the UK) as well as Tortuga Rum Cake and Devon House ice cream imported from Jamaica (you’ll struggle to find Devon House ice cream anywhere else in the UK). It’s been a while since I visited Jamaica Patty Co, but at the time of visiting, they were serving up great juices and smoothies, and breakfast porridge too. They’ve found a unique gap in the market if you ask me and it definitely deserves a place in my list of must-visit Caribbean restaurants. Read the Q&A with Jamaica Patty Co owner Theresa Roberts here.
The Rum Kitchen
The Rum Kitchen is on the first level of Kingly Court, off Carnaby Street. So by location, you know it’s going to be ridiculously busy and in demand by the cool after work crowds. (So be prepared to queue). There’s no mistaking you’re in a Caribbean restaurant when you step inside. They go for the rustic ‘beach shack’ look (think corrugated iron, red strip memorabilia and references to the Caribbean culture. Food wise, it didn’t match the likes of Rudies or Negril when I visited and you get less bang for your buck. However, the flavours were on point and the soft shell crab burger added something different to the usual jerk. I need to go back to see if things have changed. Oh wait, there’s a new Rum Kitchen that’s just opened in Brixton. Great timing – I’ll have to head down there soon. Read the full Rum Kitchen review here.
There are more West Indian restaurants coming to London all the time – which makes me very happy – with many I still haven’t tried. Do you have any great Caribbean restaurants to add to the list? Drop me a note below and let me know.
Until next time x