I’d come across Rum Kitchen countless times over the years, but for some reason I never had the urge to eat there … probably because the friends that invited me where a lot more keen on the bar than the food, and I don’t drink alcohol. But, yesterday Shiima and I were in Soho and very hungry; Shiima didn’t want to go anywhere too grandiose, as we were dressed casually, so I decided we go to Carnaby Street and look around. We passed Five Guys on the way, and although Shiima was keen, she sussed out that I wasn’t in the mood for a burger so she passed on Five Guys *smiley*. We went to Kingly Court, and although we considered Pizza Pilgrims and Oka (only I considered this lol), the choice was Rum Kitchen, especially because, and for slightly obvious reasons (my friends know I love spice and Shiima only eats chicken lol), we keep getting asked what we think of Rum Kitchen, and our response (that we’d never been) was always surprising and in some cases downright disappointing lol.
Rum Kitchen is a chain of Caribbean restaurants, with restaurants in Notting Hill and Brixton, alongside the restaurant in Carnaby. The Carnaby restaurant has a very lively vibe, a really cool bar, and the décor reminds you of a beach shack in the Caribbean, which is a very nice touch. We didn’t have a reservation, but we were seated immediately, as lucky for us there was just one table available. Everyone that came after us had a bit of a wait. The waiters are casual and friendly, perfect for the vibe of the restaurant. The menu, although not extensive, has everything we’d hoped for. After ordering Virgin cocktails, which were delicious – mango swizzle for her, hibiscus cooler for me – we ordered the jerk wings and spiced fried squid to share, and Shiima ordered the jerk bowl with plantain for her main and I ordered jerk pork belly ribs and plantain for my main.
The jerk wings were good, although not at all spicy and BBQ sauce was a tad too sweet for my liking, but it was cooked perfectly. The Spiced fried squid wasn’t to Shiima’s liking, she thought it was too “fishy”, which you might think odd, but I completely understand where she was coming from – the fried squid she enjoys usually have a tasty batter and the squid is meaty, this wasn’t, the batter was a bit flaky/dry and the squid had a squid consistency *smiley*, which is just fine for me, so I finished it. The ginger and lime aioli was really good too.
There are two options for the jerk bowl – 3 pieces or 5 pieces of boneless thighs. We went for 5 pieces as I planned to enjoy a couple of the pieces. The chicken thighs were nice, not as spicy as we’d hoped for especially after we chose “hot!!” (it’s either “regular or hot!!”), and importantly they weren’t as “jerk” as I’ve become used to from my many experiences with Street Feast staples Mamas Jerk and White Men Cant Jerk. It might seem like I’m saying the chicken wasn’t tasty, it was, but I was a bit disappointed. Shiima loved the plantain, she devoured mine as well; it was perfectly cooked, I wasn’t even sure it was fried because it wasn’t oily at all. My pork belly ribs … well, I did not like it. To continue to theme, it wasn’t spicy, neither did it taste of jerk, and it was dry. But I ate most of it, my mum raised me right *smiley*. As a loser, I didn’t touch the rice & peas or the slaw that comes with the main – I was there for the jerk lol. Shiima had a bit of the rice and peas and the coleslaw and she says its pleasant … the rice a bit dry, but as an Arab, she’s used to eating dry rice lol. We weren’t in the mood for dessert, although the couple behind us had desserts and each dessert looked gorgeous.
I didn’t enjoy my experience in Rum Kitchen, but Shiima did a tad bit. I can’t fault the atmosphere or the friendly staff; my expectations were just too high for the “jerk” dishes. There is more to the menu, other dishes I’d like to try, so I will go back to Rum Kitchen, and this time with managed expectations. I recommend for a casual date, the bar area (although fairly small), and diners who enjoy a vibrant atmosphere. Also, it’s moderately priced.
Dress Code: Casual
Shiima’s Star Dish: Plantain
Price: £25 each (excluding alcohol)
Rating: 2.5 out of 5