FOOD REVIEW: The Rum Kitchen, Notting Hill
First things first- if you are don’t like rum and/or you want a quiet, intimate meal, read no further. Otherwise, please do continue, as The Rum Kitchen on All Saints Road is well worth a visit.
Opened in January this year, The Rum Kitchen is the latest rum themed bar / restaurant to come to London to try and crack a market that has been notoriously difficult to perfect. The venue is decorated like a beach hut with colourfully painted walls, wooden tables, and music blaring (very) loudly from the boombox PA system.
We take our seats in the modestly sized restaurant area next to the ground floor bar and the waitress hands us the drinks menu. The Rum Kitchen’s USP is that rum is the only spirit on the menu, but luckily there are 100 brands to choose from, and where better to start the evening than with the ‘Grog’, one of 10 signature cocktails available.
The food menu is limited to 6 starters and 7 mains, which some will be disappointed with, but the dishes available offer a good mix of traditional Caribbean and American South specialities. We begin with the Jerk Chicken Wings, which are more BBQ than Jerk, with the sweet marinade working extremely well with the accompanying scotch bonnet chilli sauce. The Saltfish Fritters are equally as good. This Jamaican staple can be oily, but these are surprisingly light and a chilli jam dip helps whet the appetite further; however at £8.50 for 3 small pieces, they aren’t cheap.
For mains, I was tempted by the Seafood Gumbo, but eventually decided on the Curried Mutton with Rice ‘n’ Peas. When I was growing up, I always looked forward to Sundays, as this often meant my mum was making curried mutton, and The Rum Kitchen’s effort was well worthy of a place at my family table. The boneless mutton was tender and although mild, still offered great flavours, however I thought the dish would have been that bit better if the rice was softer and used more coconut cream.
Desserts are strictly for those with a wickedly sweet tooth as the caramelised banana pudding and chocolate rum cake are amongst the most popular of the 4 available. Don’t get me wrong, the rum cake with chocolate sauce was gooey and very moreish, but by the last bite, I felt like Augustus Gloop.
As a man of Jamaican descent, I’ve eaten Caribbean cuisine all my life. This inadvertently makes me more critical than most when reviewing food that my gran makes best. It’s unfair to compare homemade cuisine to a restaurant and if I look at The Rum Kitchen from an unbiased point of view, it is not a bad effort at all. Also, customer service in Caribbean restaurants is, on the whole, non-existent, but The Rum Kitchen is an exception to the rule, and the relaxed nature of the waiting staff helped set the tone for the evening.
At around £20 for two courses, and drinks from £8 upwards, it can easily turn into a very expensive evening. However, with so few great Caribbean restaurants around, The Rum Kitchen is worthy of a return visit- recommended for a fun, not too serious, rum fuelled evening.
The Rum Kitchen, 6-8 All Saints Rd, W11 1HH