The refitted interior has a relaxed, beachy vibe /

The original west London Caribbean escape returns with larger than life drinks and plenty of slow-cooked jerk meat

Just as the phoenix is reborn from the fire, the original Rum Kitchen has been gloriously renewed. The food is in your face, the drinks are incredibly over the top and you may be forgiven for thinking you’ve just walked into someone’s – fabulously decorated – beach shack that has a major penchant for brass pineapples. 

As the original of the three sites, which branched out to Carnaby Street and Brixton, founders Alex Potter and Jonny Boud’s slick redesign includes louder than life tropical patterns on bench style seating, colonial-style low ceiling fans, with white-painted plank walls and cool mint-green separators between booths. 

Along with their new interior, they’ve gone to town on the food, and introduced some new sauces, notably the swamp hot sauce – sounds bizarre but it’s if for heat lovers it hits the spot.

The jerk drum BBQ sauce is just one of the elements that bring the “buss up shut” roti pizza to life. Aside from the best – and only – Caribbean pizza I’ve had, more classic dishes include plantain with chilli jam and jerk wings. While green chili mac and cheese and tropical seabream ceviche push the boat out and welcome innovative, if slightly odd paired flavourings. 

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The ‘buss up shut’ roti pizza with jerk chicken & sweet potato

The meat is taken seriously. It’s marinated for 18 hours, then sous-vided – sealing the meat in air-tight plastic and placing it in heat controlled water– for a further six hours. This keeps the texture and, most importantly – that flavour. But that’s not the end of the line; it is finished off by cooking it in a bertha (indoor barbecue) over cherry- and apple-smoked coals –  the aroma of which pleasantly fills the restaurant. 

The pork belly ribs are huge, where the fat is cooked into a “bark”, and served with rice and peas with watermelon and pineapple, to freshen the palate. There’s a jerk burger, and two types of jerk chicken – with or without bones to suit both camps. Sides include sweet potato fries and mash, and callaloo – a Caribbean dish served with spinach and ackee (like lychee). 

It’s not big on vegetarian food, with a seriously meat-focused menu, split into bits and bobs, jerk, plates and sides, making it a less formal take on eating out, and very sharer friendly. But veggies are not totally forgotten – under the plates section is a gorgeous coconut, sweet potato and pumpkin curry, doused with crunchy pomegranate seeds. The other only meat-free main is the rainbow salad with exotic fruits, and the option to add grilled halloumi.

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Coconut, sweet potato and pumpkin curry with quinoa, tomato, pomegranate and coconut flakes 

Much attention is paid to the drinks. The rattle skull punch with spiced rum goes down far too easily and the clear as day sweet and zesty, with Dominican rum, and topped up with prosecco, elderflower and lemon – it’s essential to try.  But the pièce de résistance is the banana colada. Order if just for the “glass” if nothing else. Served in a copper pineapple, complete with copper straw, it’s essentially a boozy banana milkshake.

And then there’s downstairs. Home to more than 200 rare rums, DJ decks, vintage armchairs and jungle palm-tree print wallpaper, it’s a mix-matched space set for partying. And it’s open until 2am – the only venue in the area to do so – despite what the neighbours think of that.  

You must go when hungry, and be adventurous. Otherwise you’ve missed the idea of the Caribbean escape.

Three courses with cocktails come to around £70 for two. 

The Rum Kitchen, 6-8 All Saints Road, London W11 1HH,  020 7920 6479; Tue-Thu 6pm-12.30am, Fri 6pm-2am, Sat 11am-2am, Sun 11am-12.30am

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