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Restaurant Review: Good Food in Brixton

 

By Franka Phillip

 

 

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the best person to ask about eating Caribbean food in London. I've not been terribly impressed by what's on offer mainly because most of the places that sell 'Caribbean food' are just takeaway outlets offering versions of Jerk Chicken, Jamaican patties and Curry Goat.


Unfortunately, the average Brit thinks this really is the sum total of Caribbean cuisine, so much so that when some people hear you're from the Caribbean, they ask 'can you make jerk chicken?'.


Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about the goodness or otherwise of jerk chicken or Jamaican food. My beef is about the absence of any top notch restaurants with a menu that reflects the diversity of Caribbean cuisine.


But it's not fair to bang on about this and not speak about the good stuff that's on offer. That brings me to the Bamboula Restaurant in Brixton.


A few days ago, seven of us (including a Brit and a Trini-Aussie) checked out the restaurant that boasts among its directors Virginia Burke, author of Eat Caribbean, which I reviewed quite recently.


Bamboula is also something of a London showcase for Walkerswood Foods, the Jamaican company known for its seasonings and sauces. It was therefore not unreasonable for us to expect finger licking goodness.


Bamboula is small, it can probably seat about 20 people - if so many. But I think this is part of its charm as it's a cosy and intimate setting. The decor was dominated by bright colours and Caribbean motifs, like fig leaves painted on the tables.


The pretty lengthy menu was anchored by Jamaican staples like Ackee and Saltfish, Jerk Chicken, Escoveitch Fish, Curry Goat and Pick Up Saltfish, all of which were ordered by our group.


I started with Top Gully, ackee and saltfish encased in a strip of fried plantain. The sweetness of the plantain was a good contrast to the saltiness of the ackee and saltfish.


Alice, the sole Brit among us had the Pickup Saltfish, which we thought was a dish Trinis call Buljol, but the presentation was totally different and the saltfish a bit too salty.


She also ordered callaloo, which I was eager to taste, since Jamaicans make callaloo with chopped spinach, instead of dasheen leaves like they do in Trinidad.

 

Bamboula's callaloo was tasty but I prefer the Trini way of making it like a soup. Choosing my main course wasn't difficult, I went for the Oxtail Stew with Festival, my favourite Jamaican delicacy.

 

Festival is a bread like dumpling that's made with a bit of cornmeal. It went well with the oxtail stew which was very tender and succulent but a tad salty. I didn't get to taste what everyone ordered, but I liked Rebecca's tasty Escoveitch Fish and Sean's unctuous curry goat.


Overall the Bamboula experience was positive, the service was a bit slow but friendly, kinda like back in the Caribbean.


I'd recommend it, because the food is quite solid and unpretentious. The servings were generous and it wasn't very expensive. The bill for seven came up to £110 including drinks, so by London's standards, it was good value for money.


Bamboula Restaurant, 12 Acre Lane, Brixton, London, SW2 5SG

 

Phillip is a journalist with the BBC in London. She blogs as cancookmustcook

 

Think you can do better? Help us review restaurants in your area. E-mail editor@thenewblackmagazine.com

Bamboula:A Taste of the Caribbean

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