Bamboula Caribbean Restaurant puts formalities aside to deliver genuine Caribbean cuisine and drinks. Here you will find a real taste of the islands.
This friendly Caribbean restaurant will make you smile as soon as you walk in the door, enticed by the colourful window and outside seating. Bamboula Caribbean Restaurant is a smallish room with a bamboo divider near the door and simple, square tables hand-painted with a colourful leaf design. Other quirky details include mirrors with frames made out of beer caps and cork, and plenty of foliage, real or otherwise, completes the effect. The scrapped materials, hand-made elements and vibrant colours ring of authenticity and you would expect joints in the Caribbean to truly look like this.
Despite the fact that Brixton has a Caribbean restaurant on every corner, Bamboula Caribbean Restaurant has built quite a reputation for itself. There’s a crowd of regulars, an equal number who hail from the Caribbean themselves looking for a taste of home, and those who simply love the food. And they flock in at every time of the day; the flow resembles a relaxed cafe, with people coming and going at all hours and taking advantage of the late opening.
Callaloo (£2.30) is a traditional dish, a tasty and rather spicy dark leaf stir-fried with onion and spices. Only slightly bitter, it has a distinctive, strong flavour which matches perfectly with saltfish. The sharp ackee and saltfish (£3.50), Jamaica’s national dish, is another of the choices, along with plantain rings filled with ackee and saltfish (£3.85), codfish fritters (£3.85) and saltfish and red bean in coconut sauce served with banana chips (£3.30).
The mains – priced at £7.70 to £9.90 for dinner and £4 to £6.50 for lunch – include simple options like pasta bake (with callaloo), steamed fish fillet, guava-glazed jerk lamb, jerk chicken and rather elaborate rundown curry made with coconut, spices and cho-cho, which is a tangy green vegetable that looks kind of like an apple. The Escoveitch Supreme (whole snapper with carrots and cho-cho in pickle sauce) is fresh and well cooked but it is the side vegetables, dressed in an intriguing sauce, that make the dish.
The desserts (£3.30 - £4.40) are just as interesting. The bread pudding and tropical crumble may not be a complete surprise, but the pineapple mojito will surely startle you. It’s not a cocktail but fresh pineapple soaked in rum and then rolled in minted sugar.
To keep it all Caribbean, pick a homemade punch (from £2 - £4 per glass or £7 - £22 for jugs). The strong, tasty and very sunny rum and sorrel punches are the most traditional. Sorrel is the Jamaican name for dry hibiscus flowers and this punch, popular around Christmas, mixes ginger and sugar for a sharp, refreshing but sweet flavour. Jamaican beers Red Stripe and Dragon are also available together for £2.50, as well as Heineken and Guinness (both the traditional Irish and Jamaican varieties).
Not surprisingly, wine is not given much space on the drinks menu. However you can still choose from three reds (£2.50 - £4 per glass, £11.50 - £14.50 per bottle), three whites (£2.75 - £3.20 per glass, £11.50 - £13 per bottle) and two Champagnes (£23 and £30). The spirits (£3 - £4) are mostly from Jamaica and Barbados and within the soft drinks options you can find exotic choices like mango and guava juice. Even the teas (£1.25 - £2) yield surprises – choose from cerassie or fevergrass tea.
The Last Word
Uncomplicated and satisfying, Bamboula Caribbean Restaurant is ideal for fans of Caribbean food and those interested in exploring new flavours.