Rum, Reggae and Rice’n Peas at Cottons:
The Cottons group of Caribbean restaurants have been bringing tropical tastes to Londoners north of the river since 1985. But with the opening of Cottons Caribbean Restaurant & Rum Shack at St Georges Wharf in Vauxhall, South Londoners can now join in the fun too.
Situated right on the riverside, Cottons Vauxhall has a large indoor tiki-style restaurant and Rum Shack bar with a glamorous outside terrace on the river for those long summer evenings.
The innovative Caribbean menu is inspired by islands from Jamaica to Margarita and in an innovation for Cottons features a Caribbean pizza menu (anyone for jerk salmon or chilli shrimp & callaloo pizza!), as well as enticing breakfast and brunch, offers such as Caribbean spiced scrambled eggs with sada bread or the Yardie Breakfast of ackee & salt-fish with dumplings. To wash all this down there’s a rum shack bar which has 300 different types of rum. I suggested to the PR that I should review them all but my kind offer was turned down… so we settled on a dinner review.
But before food it’s rude not to have a drink and a couple of rum cocktails priced at a very reasonable £8.50 were just what the doctor ordered. The Reggae Rum Punch, a blend of Wray & Nephew 63% overproof rum, orange, pineapple and lime juices with Grenadine, was a deliciously fruity, long, tropical-flavoured rum cocktail with a bite.
But my favourite was the Rum Old Fashioned, a mix of House gold rum, Demerara sugar, bitters and orange peel. It was smooth and slightly sweet with caramel notes. A great way to start the evening!
With reggae versions of Pink Floyd and reggae classics on the sound system, it was clearly time for another drink. Our bottle of Flagstone Noon Gun, South Africa, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier 2016 had a well-structured acidity with a hint of sweetness allowing it to cope with the upcoming spice fest. And so onto starters…
Fluffy crisp Salt Fish fritters were given a kick by a sweetly spiced mango chutney.
Pan-fried King Prawns came with toasted cocoa bread and a rich, spicy jerk butter sauce which complemented the prawns without overwhelming them.
Tender and moist Jerk half chicken was slow-roasted with pimento and lovely warming spices, stir-fried vegetables, jerk sauce and rice and peas. It had a citrus tang and the sauce was effectively mopped up by an authentic tasting dish of rice and peas.
Spiced coconut bouillabaisse with scallops, lobster, squid, sea bass, annatto potatoes and a Scotch bonnet rouille was delicious with a real home-cooked feel. It was packed with scallops and infused with the flavour and heat of the scotch bonnet.
The only dud dish of the meal was the chocolate and honeycomb cheesecake with passionfruit honey spiced granola. It was too dense and heavy to be really satisfying but I loved the light and fluffy Jamaican bread and butter pudding with caramelised banana, cinnamon and crème fraiche.
Cottons Vauxhall joins the original Cottons Camden, the boutique shacks in Shoreditch and Notting Hill – which currently holds the Guinness World Records title for the bar with the most varieties of rum stocked – 372! They are well worth a visit for a touch of Caribbean sunshine at any time of year.
St Georges Wharf,
Vauxhall, SW8 2LE
0207 091 0793
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