The Rum Kitchen Brighton Review

The Rum Kitchen Brighton Review

“Well-seasoned jerk chicken so tender it fell off the bone with the slightest touch. Obviously marinated for hours in incredibly flavoursome Jerk spices. Maximum succulence, with the perfect balance of heat, sweet and savoury.”

It could be that I after a year and a half of not being able to travel, but wave the prospect of rum cocktails, jerk chicken, calypso music and sunshine vibes in front of my nose and I’m there like a shot!  Apart from jetting off for a couple of weeks to Barbados, there really can’t be a better way to spend a cold  Autumnal Friday night than at The Rum Kitchen Brighton. Opened in the summer of 2020 on Black Lion Street, in the heart of the city’s Lanes. Rum Kitchen is somewhere between a cocktail bar and a restaurant, specialising in slow-cooked Caribbean food and rum-based drinks. As the first option is still off the table,  we made our way down to check out the hottest new addition to Brighton’s famous food and party scene.

Stepping into The Rum Kitchen is like entering the sort of place you could imagine on a white sandy shore, full of locals chilling out with tumblers of dark rum – albeit with a bit more refinement. With a beach-bar style cocktail bar front and centre with expert mixologists showcasing their skills  expertly crafting cocktails with flair whilst chatting to the clientèle surrounding them. Although relatively early in the evening there was already a hint of a carnival vibe going on, which was both refreshing and exciting.

Behind the bar is the main restaurant which is spacious with another large and very well-stocked bar displaying an impressive variety of premium rums. The restaurant is darkly kitted out with mismatched industrial style wooden tables and benches, and more comfortable booths with spotlights, creating little pockets for you and your companions to immerse yourself in. A DJ overlooks the restaurant area as he spins laid back R&B and hip hop early on in the evening, progressing to more carnival style music to get the party going later on. The tables are well spaced so as diners are not on top of each other, with a fair bit of room to get up and dance when the mood takes you! As we are shown to our table and given our menus I am immediately impressed by the staff who are all incredibly friendly and welcoming. This was reinforced throughout the night as they could not do enough for us, creating an air of inclusivity that I have not experienced anywhere else in Brighton. The menu is easy to navigate with a nice selection of small plates, larger mains, burgers and sides,  celebrating the bold flavours of the Caribbean, with nods to many of the signature dishes of the islands. Flip it over to reveal the drinks menu which has been given equal attention, displaying an impressive and well thought out range of classic and bespoke cocktails with sharing punches and mock-tails to boot.

We decide to get the party started with a couple of cocktails while we choose our food options. I plump for a “Rude Boy” on recommendation from restaurant manage Joel, whilst my companion satisfies her sweet tooth with a “Banana Colada,” both Rum Kitchen twists on classics made with specially selected premium rums. They both taste great and really pack a punch! I could feel the warm boozy glow begin to creep up before we even ordered our food!

We decide to share some small plates of some of the more well-known Caribbean street food dishes to start us off, wanting to make our experience as authentic as possible. Saltfish fritters, vegan T&T doubles, and some fried plantain. We were blown away by every one of them. The doubles were some of the best I have tasted. Two Turmeric infused flatbreads topped with a delightful garlicky chickpea curry, companied with a hot tamarind sauce and salsa. This epitome of Trinidad’s street food culture was spicy, messy and sensational, one for carnivores and vegans alike. The saltfish fritters were very tasty indeed, crispy, chewy and delicately seasoned so great for dipping in the accompanying tamarind sauce, in fact they tasted great dunked in all the various sauces that came with our plates of food. The fried plantain slices cooked to perfection, sticky sweet melt in your mouth morsels which tasted even better coated in the accompanying mango chilli jam, which I expected  to overpower the taste of the plantain, yet despite its lovely sweet chilli kick, complimented and even exaggerated the essence of the main attraction.

Before our mains arrive we grab another couple of delicious (and potent) cocktails and have a chat with Joel, who’s passion for all things Caribbean was infectious. Once-upon-a-time homeless in Jamaica, taken in by a local family, his motivation is to honour his roots and make his customers experience as authentic as possible. He ensures the music, food, and drink are all given equal attention to create an atmosphere and experience that will transport you to a sun-kissed carnival. All the rums are imported directly from the Caribbean to add to the authenticity and ensure the community benefit.

Our mains were equally as impressive as the starters. I’ll begin with my Jerk Chicken main which was simply phenomenal. Well-seasoned grilled chicken that was so tender it fell off the bone with the slightest touch. Obviously marinated for hours in incredibly flavoursome Jerk spices. Maximum succulence, with the perfect balance of heat, sweet and savoury. Served with some delicious nicely spiced rice and peas, and a lovely crisp sweet coleslaw to cool things down. My companion’s Appleton rum glazed pulled pork bun was shear perfection, slow cooking was certainly evident as the pork melted away releasing the meats full flavour which was complemented by the rich sweet rum glaze and further jazzed up with crispy chillies and slaw, and a kicking scotch bonnet and spring onion aioli.

We had no room for pudding after we’d finished our mains, so had another cocktail off their extensive drinks menu before staggering home after what we both agreed was an incredible fun night with some wonderful authentic Caribbean flavours and a party vibe that made us want to carry on into the early hours. Which we would have if we were not so full!

The Rum Kitchen is a fantastic place to hang out in, chat with friends, drink cocktails and devour some amazing Jamaican food. If you are looking for some great food and some cocktails to wash it down, either as a date, or a group. The Rum Kitchen will deliver the vibes for a great night out.

Tony Shattell

The Rum Kitchen: 11 Black Lion Street. BN1 1HD. 01273 073151