Hey everyone, Easter is over, it’s time to awaken from that chocolate coma of yours and rejoin the working world again. Don’t panic – there’s only four days of it this week so it’s not too bad, you’ll cope, but now it’s time to stop instagramming pictures of Lindt bunnies and start thinking about food that actually constitutes a proper meal. (NB: Mini-eggs are NOT a proper meal!)
So I’ve worked in and around Leicester Square and Covent Garden for the best part of the last two and a half years. In that time i’ve picked up some pretty boring lunching habits as the majority of restaurants and eateries in the area are either chains or tourist traps serving up generic dishes that have been designed to please the masses. There is certainly no shortage of fries, nachos, ribs and limp burgers around here… You’re actually hard pushed to find many places where that isn’t the core of a menu, and it’s sad because London is full to the brim with awesome, unique, independent places to eat, and yet Leicester Square & Covent Garden seem unable to let them thrive. And how can they when there are 4 Angus Steak Houses within 200 yards of each other, for Christ sake! Who needs that many Angus Steak Houses? Literally no-one!
Don’t get me wrong, there are a handful of fantastic one-off restaurants with menus that will surprise and delight you to no end, but still it’s a rare occasion when I am somewhat blown away by a meal in the area. It’s happened a few times, and if you’re an avid reader of my blog you’ll have already read about those (Clos Maggiore, Hawksmoor, Dishoom to name a few) and last week it happened again.
The old cloakroom of Adventure Bar on Bedford Street in Covent Garden is now home to an exciting new miniature Caribbean shack called Dub Jam, which serves up Jerk BBQ dishes and cocktails in-keeping with the spirit of the Caribbean!
When I say miniature, that’s what I really mean. Remember this was once a cloakroom, and so when it comes to covers you’re not looking at numbers high over a dozen, but take away is available if you want to go spread that caribbean vibe elsewhere in London. The decor is like something straight off of the beach. Vibrant colours and Bob Marley inspired graffiti covers the walls, half a surf board stuck to one side of the room acts as a breakfast bar style dining area, while rustic wooden tables line the other side with stools made from recycled car wheels and covered in some kind of squidgy hemp material. The lights that hang low above the tables are made from bright coloured water buoys, and above the counter is a gigantic boom-box style music system that manages to transport you straight to the vibrant summer streets of Notting Hill Carnival as it pumps out a fun soundtrack by Trojan Records. It’s quite amazing what they’ve managed to do with such a small space, but what’s more impressive is the incredible flavours they’ve managed to achieve with only a few ingredients.
The menu provides a twist on the classic caribbean flavours we have grown to love, with jerk skewers (starting from £5.50) that have been marinated for 48 hours in their very own jerk seasoning before being grilled on the BBQ – you can choose from Jerk Chicken, Pork Belly, Jerk Haloumi & Peppers and the King Prawn & Coconut. Each skewer is accompanied by a portion of crunchy Sunshine Slaw made with yoghurt, coconut and currants, and a salsa on the side – you choose whether you want it hot or smokey. Both are fantastic.
We chose to share the Jerk Chicken & the Peppa Pig skewers – the marination of the meats over the previous two days makes the meat so tender that it falls effortlessly from the skewer. The jerk flavours have seeped into the core of each piece of meat, making the flavours ooze out as you chew, and when accompanied by the salsa’s which are intense in flavour, you have a mouthful good enough to make your tastebuds dance (along wid da ridd’um of da speakers, mon!)
A meal at Dum Jam however isn’t complete without a side order of their Sweet Potato Chips. The £3.60 portion is enough to share between two, but if you’re anything like me you simply won’t want to share, as these chips are chunky, sweet, fluffy and stunning when dipped into the salsa. I’m salivating now just thinking about them, to be honest.
In addition to skewers, you can also order yourself one of their beach burgers, priced from £6.50 and contain 28 day dry-aged English beef, cooked medium and served with lettuce, tomato & mayo, served in a flatbread pocket with a pot of salsa on the side. Then you customise it with extras to make it your own. There is also a great list of caribbean inspired sides, as well as a drinks menu fit for any sunny holiday, including their very own homemade Rum Punch served in painted cans, priced at such £6 and spiked with a hint of reggae – ask them how they do it when they serve it to you!
This place might be small, but the flavours are big. Dub Jam have taken a concept and managed to create a restaurant which is exciting without being overcomplicated, meaning there is little chance for error and a big chance that customers will keep returning again and again. It’s nice to have had a burst of sunshine injected into Covent Garden in the midst of this typical Spring weather, and i’m looking forward to returning for some Caribbean vibes very soon!