Café Caribbean in old Spitalfields market is the sort of place that you hope to find when hunting for lunch. The counter is filled with a whole plethora of delicious looking vats of Caribbean food. It looks homemade and authentic, it IS homemade and authentic, and in the end it tasted homemade and authentic.
Their website tells us that
“Café Caribbean is owned and run by Warren, an ex-professional boxer, who after suffering from an eye injury now cooks the best food the way his mum and grandma used to cook it.”
We hadn’t read the website or done any research before we ate here, it was all based on reading the Café Caribbean Menu and seeing the food on the counter. There were dishes such as Ackee & Saltfish a ‘Traditional dish of the islands, cooked with onions, tomatoes and peppers“, Curry Goat ‘Our famous dish cooked with a special blend of spices and scotch bonnet peppers’, Oxtail & Butter Bean Stew, and Stew Chicken to mention just some of their offerings.
So what was the food on offer?
We ordered a plate of Jerk Chicken for £5.50, it came with a choice of ‘Rice and Peas’ or ‘Plain Rice and Salad’. We went for the Rice and Peas option. The Jerk Chicken is described as being “Tangy and hot served with our famous jerk sauce.”
It was indeed both both Tangy and Hot. I think it would have been ok with just the chicken and the ‘rice and peas’ as they were at a heat level that was comfortable. However, it was the jerk sauce that the lady at the counter poured onto the chicken that blew us away. It was a pleasant heat, the sort that builds up over a couple of mouthfuls and then sends you hunting across the plate for a spoonful of rice untouched by sauce just to get a little bit of a more cooling mouthful. Although I am feigning some sort of baulk at the heat level, it was actually a most pleasurable experience.
We also tried some of their macaroni cheese as a side dish at £2.50 a portion. This was quite interesting and not quite as expected. Their was quite a bit of baked lemon topping each slice and that made the pasta a little more tangy with the cheese with just a small hint of acid. Other sides that sounded and looked interesting are the Fried Plantain, and the Sweet or Plain Fried Dumplings both for just £1.50
It was almost impossible to resist one of their Caribbean beef patties for £1.40.It wasn’t bad but to be honest my mouth was still suffering from that jerk chicken sauce and so I didn’t get the full benefit of the flavours. Other choices of filling include chicken, lamb, vegetable, and saltfish.
Café Caribbean is in the Pavilion Building at Old Spitalfields Market and was pretty busy at lunchtime midweek when we were there. There are quite a few other kiosk cafés vying for trade, but they all seemed to be holding their wn with a mix of market traders, tourists, office workers and city types all waiting their turn.