Review: Bamboula, Brixton
If the raging desire for some summer sun has hit and you’re sitting in the office striking off the days till your next holiday, then you can do worse than to head to Brixton.
And more specifically, to Bamboula.
Opening the doors to the restaurant is like stepping straight over the threshold of a Caribbean island and, were it not for the occasional glimpses of gloomy grey London outside, the lashings of rum punch and sunny disposition of the owners, combined with the lilting music mean you can just about convince yourself you’ve stepped off the beach to grab a bite to eat.
I’d gathered together four little nibblers (including some who have yet to be scribbled up but who, after many years of nibbling alongside me, have duly earned their place in the ranks) because I’d got a hankering for some curried goat and jerk chicken. Plus, what better place to have a lovely, low key gathering of amigos of a Thursday evening?!
I’m lucky in that they all indulge me in my demands to ‘try as many of the dishes as possible’ – even with the presence of two very hungry boys who were somewhat dubious about the concept of ‘sharing food’ (actually, come to think of it, Sweet Tooth expresses doubt about this method every time as well…), we voraciously ordered many dishes to be shared from the lengthy menu. By this point we were halfway through a jug of rum punch, and so we might just have been somewhat overenthusiastic/vocal in our ordering.
It was a hearty affair.
As is often the way with ‘stew-like’ dishes, the photos cannot possibly capture the savoury and lipsmacking nature of each plateful, simply because they all look a little the same – that is, a bit brown and stewy. Take it from me (and the enthusiastic nibblers) that this was far from the case. Oxtail stew and curried goat were dark, rich and unctuous and a firm favourites all round, with the bones slurped loudly (that might have just been me though, I sometimes lack table manners when it comes to yummy meals). Jerk chicken was tangy, spicy and sticky. Ackee and Saltfish is always a strange one – in a good way, but difficult to place your finger on. It’s resolutely savoury and salty, and the perfect accompaniment to the obligatory rice-’n'peas.
So, in sum: atmosphere: check, music: check, cheap’n'cheerful fare: check. A plethora of plantain, peas and other tasty treasures: check. There’s just one thing I’d warn you avoid. The ‘food’. No, I’m not being deliberately facetious, I don’t mean all of it – ‘food’ in the Caribbean is apparently referring to a plateful of starchy stuff. Y’know, your green bananas, yams and dumplings. Neither I, nor the rest of the little nibblers, could fight it down. I’ll be sticking resolutely to the stews, thank you. And I’ll be heading back to my faux Caribbean destination pretty soon. The question is, are you going to come along too?!
A generous meal for five + substantial amounts of rum punch came to about £20 a head. Tummy rubbing stuff.