Published on May 27th, 2014 | by Gavin0
The Rum Kitchen, Soho
Summary: Immaculate service and one of the best atmosphere's in Soho
Close your eyes and imagine a place with palm trees, steel drums, beautiful people all around, and a friendly waitress that caters to your every need. Could this be Bermuda? Or possibly the white sand beaches of Barbados? No, this is Carnaby Street London; the home of the newly opened Rum Kitchen Caribbean themed bar and restaurant.
The Rum Kitchen Carnaby Street is the second restaurant created by the owners of PING, following the successful launch of the first Rum Kitchen in Notting Hill just over 2 years ago. I must admit, I found the food at the All Saints Road branch a bit hit and miss, but since my visit about 18 months ago, I’d heard through the foodie grapevine that the brand has gone from strength to strength. So with this in mind, I decided to book a table (or should that be beach hut?) at the new restaurant.
The restaurant is based on the first floor of the newly renovated Kingly Court complex just off Carnaby Street, which is also home to trendy restaurants Shoryu Ramen and White & Brown. Be warned, The Rum Kitchen is near impossible to locate, so be sure to ask around until someone points you in the right direction. However, when I did eventually find the first floor venue, it was heaving with people at only 7pm, which is a good sign.
Decked out like a beach front rum shack complete with wooden tables, steel drum wall displays and hip hop booming from the speakers, you’re left in no doubt about what to expect from an evening in The Rum Kitchen; those wanting a quiet, romantic meal should turn back now and go elsewhere.
Once seated, we are welcomed by our ‘so laid back she’s almost horizontal’ hostess who talks through the menu and recommends us some must try dishes. This is quite possibly the most colloquial greeting I’ve ever received in a West End restaurant, and it’s so refreshing that I can’t help but take off my tie, undo two buttons from my shirt and relax. If the name wasn’t a big enough hint, rum is an integral part to everything here, and before eating, we order a round of cocktails.
Although not technically a cocktail, I highly recommend trying the Calypso Cola which is a good old rum and coke, but made with The Rum Kitchen’s very own homemade cola, which is nothing short of amazing.
For starters, the saltfish fritters with chilli jam is a winner, and my pick of the entire menu. I’ve found other incarnations of this traditional Jamaican snack to be too oily, but these were perfect.
The Roti and Choka with aubergine dip also caught my eye because of the similarities with the Lebanese staple of pitta and moutabal. A good choice, however my guest preferred the burnt tomato and garlic dip and the only let down was a slightly stale roti bread.
For mains, I couldn’t not order the jerk chicken which comes with a sweet potato and yam mash. I was half expecting a watered down version of the famous spicy West Indian dish, but was pleasantly surprised to find it to be as authentic as anything I’ve tried in the Caribbean and had me quickly reaching for a glass of milk. The mash was also an enjoyable accompaniment to the well-seasoned poultry.
There’s always that one person who doesn’t want dessert, but being The Rum Kitchen, of course there’s a rum based alternative; a list of 9 of the finest sipping rums around (although there are 80 others behind the bar to try upon request), including personal favourites Angostura 1919 and El Dorado Superior. However, having seen the chocolate rum cake, I took a rain check on the shots. Never fear if you’re slightly inebriated already; the cake is subtle on alcohol but BIG on chocolate.
After a couple more drinks, my guest and I are in very high spirits and don’t realise that the time has flown by while in the hands of the fantastic staff who have provided immaculate service from start to finish. In terms of a restaurant experience, the Rum Kitchen isn’t the best you’ll find in the area, as although the food is a fairly good standard, it is quite expensive and don’t think I could justify recommending to a friend.
Saying that though, if I’m with a group of mates, it would be near the top of my list of places to visit at it has one of the best atmospheres in town. Personally I’d pull up a stool at the bar, share some banter with staff and order a sharing platter once the inevitable hunger craving sets in after one too many cocktails.
The Rum Kitchen Carnaby St, 1st Floor Kingly Court, W1B 5PW