On what is already a very buzzing street, Rum Kitchen still manages to stand out with a frontage of island orange and blue hues, giving way to an interior of lit shelves adorned with rum bottles - over 200 varieties!
A naturally sociable atmosphere is created via the the large counter bar, which is perfect for sampling the extensive selection of the Caribbean’s favourite spirit combined with a ‘theatre’ kitchen to watch the chefs at work while you nibble on salt fish fritters.
437 Coldharbour Lane
Whether you're sitting at a smaller table or in one of the booths, the upbeat music lends a holiday vibe. On Friday and Saturday nights, the party theme continues with a DJ playing until 1am.
The menu has all the mouth-watering classics it should, with jerk wings and crispy onion (£7) and 18-hour slow cooked pork belly ribs with their house barbecue sauce and coconut shards (£8.50) kicking us off with a bang. The fruity scotch bonnet heat and the tamarind sourness of the latter left our eyes smartened but eager to try more.
Spiced baby squid with scotch bonnet mayo topped with spring onion and fresh chillies was a salty and moreish delight - a great sharing dish (£7).
The 3-piece bowl, which consists of jerk boneless chicken thighs with jerk gravy, black-eyed pea rice and house slaw (£8.50) is a well-executed dish, from the highly smoked juicy chicken to the chunks of refreshing watermelon and pineapple that topped it.
Sides of roasted corn with crispy bacon, plantain and jerk lime dressing and callaloo with ackee, spinach and lashings of garlic (both £4.50) were fabulous. I’ve vowed to re-create that smoky, salty, sweet corn that so perfectly accompanied the meat dishes and took me back to when I visited Barbados as a child.
The only disappointing item on the menu was the buttermilk-fried chicken topped with jerk gravy and lime salt, which was too densely battered, making it a stodgy dish (£9.50).
On this particular evening, a scoop of soft serve ice cream with a topping that changes daily, was all we could muster for dessert, (£3.50) but with more greed, I’d have succumbed to the banana cake topped with walnuts and rum caramel sauce.
I’m looking forward to my next sojourn to Rum Kitchen, where I’ll definitely be trying classics such as slow-cooked mutton curry (£15) and crispy fish roti (£9). And since it seems that everything that comes out of their Bertha charcoal and wood fired oven is utterly spectacular, I’m certain the 18-hour pulled pork bun will have Brixtonites returning in their droves.
For those who know their Malibu from their Mount Gay, there’s an enormous selection of rums on offer including an exclusively bottled RK x 25-Year-Old Plantation Rum from Trinidad.
And if more-refined rare rums aren’t your thing, try a gorgeously heady Dark and Stormy (£8.50), a very quaffable Cuba Libre (£8.50), or their very popular Plantain Colada (£10), which is somewhere between a piña colada and a banana milkshake. Or if you're feeling more adventurous, try the unashamedly flamboyant ‘Zombie,’ which is served in a glass skull and has a cheeky dash of absinthe and is set alight at the table (£12.50).
The staff plays such an important part in creating the relaxed vibe in this place and most importantly, their positivity and passion is tangible. In keeping with this community ethos, Rum Kitchen works closely with Brixton Bid and Lambeth College to create a wealth of new jobs and opportunities in the local area. It prides itself on being an affordable and straight-forward neighbourhood restaurant, which supports and is supported by the heart of the community (for example its £5 happy hour menu will run from 4-7pm daily).
Our experience overall
This is an honest, genuine and fun concept with good food and great people. What more can you ask for?
Food and drink *****
Staff attentiveness/friendliness *****