One of the things I love about being a blogger is having the opportunity to try places I might never have visited for myself. I have started eating a greater variety of food since moving to London (yesterday marked two years since moving – post on this soon!) but I had never been to a Caribbean restaurant before an event at Sugar Dumplin, Kingston, a couple of weeks ago.
We were welcomed with a Flaming Zombie (cocktail, just in case there is any ambiguity there) with a passion fruit burning away on top of it. Not only was it excellent for Instagram, but it was easily the best Zombie I’ve ever had. (Why do cocktails have such odd names?)
The restaurant itself also looks amazing, with booths designed like beach huts, ‘lampshades’ made of old bottles and multicoloured string lights across the ceiling.
We settled into a booth and got the chance to try two of their sharing cocktails: Piña Colada and Unleash the Beast, which was brilliant – Kraken dark rum, coconut and orange liquor and tropical juice.
Then it was time for food – lots of it! We tried the jerk chicken, surrounded by four sides – sweet potato fries, house fries, plantain chips and red coleslaw. I don’t like coleslaw as a rule, but this was great, as were the fries – I don’t think I’ll ever be sold on plantain though! The chicken was perfectly cooked, but I needed chips-and-coleslaw intervals because I’m still trying to train my taste buds into spicy food.
What was interesting was that the curries weren’t actually as spicy as I was expecting. This was something pointed out by Norris Panton, one of the co-founders, who joined us for a chat. There is sometimes the misconception that Caribbean food will be incredibly spicy, but these are all about the taste, rather than blowing your head off!
There were two curries: goat and butternut squash. My friend could have eaten two portions of the goat’s curry, which she thought was amazing, but I quite liked the butternut squash because it was a bit lighter. It was served with rice and peas, although you could also have the choices of the sides mentioned before.
It was excellent to have one of the entrepreneurs there to be able to hear about the inspiration for the restaurant. He wants Sugar Dumplin to capture a laid-back vibe, like being on holiday. (There is also the idea of being on holiday and falling in love, as your sugar dumpling is your sweetheart.)
The food for him, though, is all about dishes he enjoys cooking at home with his family. The menu is small, so they can do a few dishes well. The restaurant is also relatively small (60 seats), to be able to keep up quality in the kitchen.
We had a really great evening at Sugar Dumplin, and by now a fair few people have too: the first restaurant only opened last year, in Glasgow, followed quickly by two in 2016 – Camberwell and here in Kingston. Wembley is next on the cards.
Many thanks to PR&EI for the invite, to Sugar Dumplin for hosting us, and to Norris and the lovely staff at the Kingston branch who were absolutely brilliant. (And thank you to my friend, Laura, for many of these photos – I forgot my camera, again…!)