The Rum Kitchen in Soho
The place itself, the sequel to the original Rum Kitchen in Notting Hill, is tucked away inside Kingly Court – a small shopping centre towards the end of Carnaby Street, which you’ll only find if you’re looking for it. During the day it’s respite from the main street and boasts a few independent shops and the obligatory brightly-painted cupcake shop but at night… excepting a dimly lit Chinese noodle bar and a dimly lit normal bar, there isn’t much. One floor up, however, a hidden jerk chicken revolution is underway.
Although not the cosiest setting, there’s something very warming about the Rum Kitchen, making you forget that it’s January, raining and summer is looking a long way off. The chilli-infused dishes and the strong cocktails may both be strong factors in this.
To start we share Saltfish Fritters with Grilled Lime and Chilli Jam and Island Spiced Squid with Scotch Bonnet Alioli. The only gripe is that we fail to ration the chilli jam and have to face the dry disappointment of the last fritter. Luckily we have our Rubin Carter (a Caribbean twist on the Hurricane, with dark rum, passion fruit and tropical juices) and Rum Sour (the rum version of a Whisky Sour) cocktails to wash it down with.
For the main course, adventurously dodging the regular chicken burger, we opt for the Soft Shell Crab Burger, generously filled with deep-fried crab, shell and all. Initial confusion abating, we tuck in and discover the soft shell is actually edible, adding some crunch and salt to a slightly sweet brioche bun.
Attempting to be truly traditional we also go for the Jerk Chicken Supreme. This is a large chicken breast artfully plonked on a bed of yam bubble and squeak and finished with a smothering of flavoursome jerk gravy, which is both tangy and thick. The sauce makes the dish, but the odd textures and flavours take a bit of getting used to.
Following the main with yet more cocktails – the Classic Daiquiri and the Rum Rum Sling (El Dorado 3 rum, Cherry Heering, pineapple and pimento) – we then head for the Caramelized Banana Pud and the Chocolate Rum Cake for dessert. Buoyed by the heady and exotic mix of rum and yam, we dig in to the rather small chunks of cake, which are both sided by pots of authentic vanilla ice cream.
But, having had a whole steel-drum band playing on the taste buds all evening, the dessert seems to lack that intense Caribbean flavour that by the end you’ll grow to love.
Rum Kitchen: 45/60
To book a table at The Rum Kitchen, 1st floor Kingly Court Carnaby Soho London W1B 5PW, call 020 7920 6479 or visit here.