Mango Shack in Camden
The rumble of Camden Road can hardly compete with the belly-thundering bass of the sound system at Mango Shack. As the two-storey restaurant swells to well beyond its capacity, you get a really good feeling. This place feels great.
The restaurant launch of Mango Shack was an explosive introduction to what promises to be a hub in this part of North London. A smooth glass of the Filernia Sauvignon Blanc and a tongue-tingling Rum Punch, and the floor has already filled. The food presented was a mere glimpse of the menu on offer: a small rotated buffet of chicken and sauces was presented to willing hands, as the crowds filled their plates. The food was worthy of praise. The chicken, marinated in spices and cooked to silky perfection, and served with both a sticky jerk and sweet coconut sauce. Do not expect such wild affairs when you visit (which you definitely should), as Mango Shack prides itself on an intelligent fusion of European and Caribbean influences. What we saw tonight was just a cheeky indication of its full gastronomic capacity, as the menu itself boasts a flamboyant variety of choice of meat, fish and vegetables. It is clear tonight, however, as greedy hands grasp at the pickings, that quality is at the top of this venue’s priorities.
The atmosphere is where it’s at here at Mango Shack. Upon entering, a grand and welcoming fire crackles opposite the first of two bars, and the kitchen glows proudly by the doorway. In three hours we have made the transition between ska, reggae and funk with satisfying coolness on the stereo. It is easy to see how versatile the ambience could be in serving an intimate meal between two, or a raucous bar session. The staff is easygoing and serve with effortless professionalism.
Mango Shack’s philosophy is “Let it go,” and in the crazed hubbub that is Camden Town, it truly does feel like a retreat: outrageously vibrant and yet secluded in its lack of pretention. If you know your homey Caribbean food then you will be impressed by the combination of comforting soul and slick presentation. Try everything you can get your hands on, and definitely try this place.
Photos: Allie Suwanrumpha
Mango Shack: 42/60
To book a table at Mango Shack, 47-49 Camden Rd, Camden, London, NW1 9LS, call 020 7267 9595 or visit here.