A Caribbean-inspired beach shack with a restaurant and cocktail bar sat in the middle of busy Notting Hill really shouldn’t work. Somehow, it does. Rum Kitchen captures the soul of the West Indies with surprising fervour.
Rum Kitchen is a schizophrenic, haphazard mix of colours and styles, all thrown together without a care in the world. They have really gone for Caribbean, laid-back appeal. And while it can hardly be called ‘beach shack chic’ - except for the obligatory corrugated iron roof above the bar - it’s nice to see that they haven’t ignored good taste in the pursuit of a theme.
Instead, the wooden panels that cover the walls are multi-coloured with reds, yellows, blues, oranges and browns, adding a warm feel to the space. The simple wooden floor is a little dull, as are the basic wooden tables; however, these are given a lift thanks to the vibrant blue and red metal chairs – a mix of industrial and shabby chic. Rum barrels only serve to add a hint of authenticity to the space. It’s incredibly well put together and moves away from the identikit look of so many of London’s restaurants at the moment. Unique really is a buzzword here. If you’re looking for a spot to hire, there is a small downstairs area for parties.
Rum Kitchen really ramps up its atmosphere with fantastic Reggae tunes playing in the background, which helps to set the scene and get you in the mood for rum and jerk chicken. It’s good to see that the soundtrack hasn’t been diluted with bland pop, either, instead keeping it real. As far as the service goes, although the style is laid-back, the speed and efficiency of the service isn’t. You won’t be left waiting for ages for your food and drinks to appear and the staff seem to care about repeat business, building casual rapports with customers. It is worth bearing in mind that after 10.30pm this place moves from restaurant to bar and becomes members only. Get in early!
There are a handful of Caribbean dishes available on the menu, priced between £6 and £9.95 and covering all of the traditional favourites, from jerk chicken to mutton stew. If you want a cheap taste of the West Indies then the Jerk chicken wings (£3.95) are a cheap bite. Sticky, tender and surprisingly filling, the only criticism is that the spices have been dulled down for Western palates – west London palates at that. More mild than hot, they could do with being kicked up a gear. It’s worth ordering the pulled pork (£9.95), served as a large sandwich with a side of fries. Making a well-priced dinner, the pork is incredible quality – soft to the point where it almost melts in the mouth without barely needing to chew.
Rum makes the world go round, apparently. And that is certainly the case at Rum Kitchen (the clue is in the title). There is a vast – and we mean vast – amount of rum on offer, covering high street favourites to those bottles rarely seen this far away from the Caribbean. However, where this bar really earns points is with the cocktails; well priced with nothing pushing past £10. Covering traditional rum brews through to new concoctions, they are impressive. The bar is especially proud of its Rattle Skull Punch - a homemade punch with a ‘secret’ mix of different rums, spices and fruit juices. As the name implies, your brain will be rattling inside your head when you wake up in the morning – it’s potent.
The Last Word
Rum Kitchen is a fantastic addition to Notting Hill and adds some colour and life to the area. Worth seeking out, even if you don’t hail from west London.