Located in Carnaby Street’s shiny Kingly Court, this is the second Rum Kitchen in London town. The first one’s been open for a year or so and has already attracted His Royal Highness of Wonderment Mr Prince Harry.
Less a restaurant, more a beach shack bar that screams unashamedly of its love for rum and sunshine, this place is all about fun, food and good times.
The bright brains behind the Rum Kitchen have brought the Bahamas to the city, with blue and white pastel beach hut planks, random patches of sun-faded corrugated metal and odd little trinkets that *might* have been picked up on the beach. The music’s great too, it’s like a party… with dinner.
The cocktail menu is a hefty book of a thing, filled with some of the loveliest cocktails in town, most of which are under a tenner. Definitely try the Grog, a deadly concoction of lime, ginger beer and plenty of rum. Served in a little enamel mug this one’s guaranteed to bring out the Jack Sparrow in you. Whether or not that’ll be a good thing, though, remains to be seen.
Whilst it’s not technically Caribbean, the Rum Kitchen’s Mojito is one of the best I’ve ever had – and I suppose that’s down to the quality of the rum. It’s so good it’s likely to turn your brain into marshmallow and leave you a slurring, stuttering mess before the night’s out.
Want something more authentic? Mama’s Guinness Punch should do the trick – over-proof rum, condensed milk and Guinness mixed with spices, chocolate bitters and served over ice.
The menu is a sort of Anglicised take on Caribbean classics – apparently London palates can’t handle the real deal. But before you get all outraged and angry about this try the ‘toned-down’ swamp sauce. I did, and immediately accepted my palate’s fate as an absolute wuss. This bottle of scotch bonnet LAVA lulls you into a false sense of security, looking just like our good friend Mr Ketchup. But don’t trust it. A tiny dab onto my tongue and I lost all sensation for the duration of the evening. A whole mouthful could likely kill a man.
Anyway, warning over and done with, we’ll move onto the food. We tried the shack’s signature Jerk Chicken Thighs (£8.50) – crispy, crunchy and moist with a bit of bite… but not too much bite! Served with extra jerk sauce for those braver than me, and pineapple slaw, which is like cole slaw but more exotic.
We also had a Jerk Chicken Supreme (£13.50) – grilled chicken breast, sweet potato and yam mash served with jerk gravy.
The Soft Shell Crab Burger (£11.50) was a monster of thing, towering several feet into the air. The spicy tamarind sauce, ginger aïloi and guava-lime relish added to its gravity-defying brilliance.
The final choice was a Jerk Fried Chicken Burger, served with scotch bonnet garlic mayo. And the world’s BEST sweet potato fries (£3), served in a small bucket.
Several cocktails later we stumbled out onto the streets of Soho, feeling like we’d just spent a week on a desert island.
The Verdict: The only bad thing about the Rum Kitchen is having to emerge into the real world afterwards. Seriously, it’s that good.
The Rum Kitchen, Soho website: therumkitchen.com