The Rum Kitchen
443-445 Coldharbour Ln, London SW9 8LN
Mon – Fri: 4pm – Late
Sat & Sun: 11am – Late
In the flurry of openings in Brixton this summer lands the next location for The Rum Kitchen, this time on Coldharbour lane. With sites already in Notting Hill and Carnaby Street, it describes itself as a “Caribbean eatery that bends the rules”. Now when it comes to Caribbean restaurants coming to Brixton there has been some controversy. Turtle Bay was marred with condemnation of its cultural appropriation when it opened last year, with its “RASTAFYME” photo booth and criticism over the restaurant chains unfair tipping service, so there would always be caution in another chain opening. However, it seems there was no need.
address: Brixton Pop, 49 Brixton Station Rd, Brixton, SW9 8PQ
Telephone: 020 3808 5112
A damp and cold Friday sees us wondering if we really want to go out to eat. But there was a place getting a bit of a buzz and we wanted to see if it lived up to the hype. Hook is a fish and chip shop in Brixton Pop offering sustainable everything (even the knives and forks) and a menu which includes Afro-Caribbean, Cajun and French influences. The cosmopolitan air was reinforced on our visit as it was provided by an all Italian team.
Small but perfectly formed on the top floor of Brixton Pop, this restaurant can sit about 16 inside and an outside area for when it gets a bit warmer. The menu is written on the wall and consists of about five fried fish dishes covered in panko (Japanese style breadcrumbs) or tempura batter. Cajun spiced or jerk are options as well as a more restrained basil and lemon.
We chose the Jerk Hake and the lemon and basil tempura seabream. Both came with what was described as seaweed salted twice cooked chips and we ordered a couple of sides (minty peas and celeriac slaw). You can interpret this as our wish to serve our followers or just that we’re greedy. We were worried that the jerk spice would overwhelm the fish but it didn’t – the flavour was there but jerk enthusiasts might even say it was a bit bland. The accompanying chipotle sauce did came with a kick, however, as well as being very smoky, and was a great for the chips.
The basil and lemon batter was very subtle but the batter was good and not too oily. The truffle sauce was also subtle but that’s what this good white fish needed. Fish can be overcooked so quickly but both mains were just right. The chips – you could see the relationship to a potato which we both loved but we were not sure why they mentioned seaweed salt. The sides – we really liked but didn’t finish them nor our portions of chips so beware over-ordering.
So did it live up to the hype … yes. We liked it a lot. Not a place for a long relaxing dinner but it was very pleasant and the food different enough for us to think we would return quite soon. They also do takeaways and Deliveroo if it gets too wet and windy.
Despite the long list of drinks they didn’t have much of a range in stock. We had a bottle of water and a bottle of And Union Unfiltered Lager. The total cost – £36.50 was pricey for fish and chips but we thought for the quality it was worth it.
address: 30 Brixton Water Lane, Brixton, London SW2 1PE
telephone: 020 3417 0674
This is a restaurant that has taken over from Brixton Space that closed some time ago – see link. This corner of Tulse Hill is getting a lot more attention with not one but two restaurants opening recently. Their next door neighbour, Naughty Piglets (see link), is getting a lot more attention. But this is a Jamaican/West Indian restaurant which describes itself as a sister company of Negril on Brixton Hill (see link) which is a long time favourite of ours. It concentrates on takeaway but also offers sit down meals. We have tried to go before but we couldn’t find their phone number and they say in one place that they have no booking service. Although all information on the web refers to opening times being from 6.oopm Tuesday to Sunday they weren’t open when we arrived at 7.10pm on a Tuesday. But we persisted and on a second try we were lucky.
The décor, much of which is carried over from Brixton Space, is 60s retro with metal chairs and a banquette with cushions and metal tables that wobble unless you spend some time propping them up with napkins. The service is assiduous and we were warned about the fire sauce.
We ordered the pumpkin curry, half a jerk chicken, rice and peas, rice and gunjo and coleslaw (both the last two came with the chicken) and a Carib and Red Stripe beer to wash it all down. They also provided tap water.
The half a chicken was way too much – a quarter would be ample for a normal appetite. It comes with a variety of sauces, barbecue, jerk and “fire”in increasing levels of heat and they are not exaggerating about the fire. We were glad of the tap water.
In contrast the pumpkin was mild and as tasty as pumpkin curry can be. But the favourite was the rice which has spices as well as peas and was really lovely to eat until the fire sauce anesthetised my palate.
This is a very friendly place to eat and we could have lingered for longer but thought we should get home for the next heat of Masterchef. The whole bill came to £32.60 which was good value as we left very full.