Published on May 19th, 2016 | by Clarissa Waldron0
Cottons, Notting Hill
Summary: As they say in the Caribbean: ‘Betta belly buss dan good food waste.’ At Cotton’s that couldn’t be truer
Recently, a little bit of the Caribbean made its way to Notting Hill. No, the annual carnival didn’t take place three months early; instead Camden stalwart Cottons Caribbean Restaurant opened a brand new store on Notting Hill Gate, with a Salon de Rhum to boot thus making it the chain’s flagship. The timing couldn’t be better with summer well and truly under way (sort of) so we took a trip to see how the new venue fits in to the Caribbean’s home from home in London.
Aiming to be a slightly more upper-end variant of the chain, the approach is felt on first entry with refined interiors and a subdued mood. After our coats and bags were neatly given a home, we took up a spot at the back of the restaurant, in a little enclave where tropical murals, a dome roof, chandelier and statement plant pots were an instant draw and eye catching throughout.
Menus are provided with info cards which reveal in “plain English” what’s actually in a lot of the dishes. A heads up – the choice is vast and we took an age to decide, reverting back and forth to our glossary card. If you’re booking this in advance it might be an idea to take a look at the menu beforehand to familiarise yourself with what’s on offer here.
Eventually, we started with a Mezze Platter and Monk Cheek – a trio of crispy bites sizes chunks resting on zesty cucumber raita. The platter shone through, as an amalgamation of flavours from Accra to Aubergine with chilli bouncing off the sweetness of pineapples. The flavour of its creole Shrimps meanwhile was drowned out by certain smokiness garnered in the cooking, not problematic but noteworthy all the same.
Beetroot in the Red Mojito is refreshing and rich with only a hint of the earthy root veg while the mint is palpable. The Killer Doopi, layered with four different rums, is akin to Russian roulette, as you sip your way up through to the next layer of strength…
For fans of the heat, the Guyanese Beef Pepper Pot will be a strong contender as tender chunks of beef melt in the mouth after 48-hours of slow cooking and chilli threatens to melt your face! A Vegetable (and vegan) Platter was thoroughly satisfying without leaving this diner feeling deprived – the Boiled Green Plantain was nothing short of succulent with Red Pepper Coulis acting as a dip. Though both impressive enough to stand alone we couldn’t not order the classic Curried Mutton, where the meat was as flavoursome as I’ve ever enjoyed and had seemingly willingly fallen away from the bone en route to the table.
The bar also purports to stock over 300 varieties of rum – the largest rum collection in the entire UK- so of course we dabbled. We tried Quentin Tarantino’s Corsair Spiced Rum where the vanilla notes seemed to be taking a night off, but it’s still pretty cool to say you tried a rum inspired by his hit ‘Reservoir Dogs’.
Like the jelly on the Yoghurt Parfait, dessert hit a bit of a wobble and if you’re going for one, skip the parfait and go all out on the Chocolate Praline Bar. You won’t regret it…. especially as it comes with a square of ice bubble gum marshmallow. Following a two course meal it’s not as heavy as you might think but even if you can only manage a few nibbles it’s worth it to see this beauty arrive to the plate – definitely unexpected craftsmanship for a Caribbean joint and a clear signifier of their desire to move upmarket.
While the restaurant’s foundation was in Camden over 30 years ago, and has come to include a Boxpark Shoreditch location, this site is the most obvious choice of them all. And its eclectic design, great food and refined experience is no doubt sitting well with affluent locals, having even hosted Lilly Allen’s recent birthday bash. So as they say in the Caribbean: ‘Betta belly buss dan good food waste.’ At Cotton’s that couldn’t be truer.
Cottons Notting Hill, 157-159 Notting Hill Gate, W11 3LFShare This Post