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.
Brighton has long been established as a foodie destination, attracting talented chefs to the restaurants showcasing cuisine from around the globe. The pubs in Brighton and Hove must think outside the box in order to compete, not only with the restaurants, but with each other, and that is one of the things I love about this town. Pop into any pub in the city and you will likely find an exotic menu of taste sensations, be it Bau Buns at the pond, American style buffalo wings at the Joker, or Indian street food at the Hampton. There is one type of cuisine that the city of Brighton and Hove has been sorely lacking over the years however, one that I have been yearning for, and that is Caribbean. Yes, there is the odd takeaway, and a side of the road food van that does particularly well, but nowhere I can think of where I have been able to sit down and enjoy some wonderful home-cooked West Indian flavours.
Enter Marcus Smith-Taylor, an incredibly talented chef with an impressive history of holding some very high profile positions including personal chef for the Qatar royal family, and Anthony Ayton, a local entrepreneur and stand-up comedian who grew up on his mother’s traditional Jamaican recipes, two friends, who whilst chatting over one of their regular poker games, also noticed the gap in the marked and came up with Yamee, the answer all my prayers, setting up home at one of Hove’s best boozers, the Coopers Cask. I can finally sit and enjoy one of my all-time favourite cuisines alongside a lovely refreshing beer, as well as in the comfort of my home through their click and collect option, Uber-Eats and Deliveroo.
The Coopers Cask is a lovely little pub in the Brunswick area of Hove that I have been somewhat of a regular visitor to for years. The food served here is consistently excellent, and until now the menu has consisted of mainly gastropub style cuisine. I wondered how the regulars would react to such a bold menu change. Very well it turns out, as we arrived almost every table was taken up by diners eagerly chowing down on some lovely looking plates of food. They manage to squeeze us in, and after ordering mains and a selection of sides from the barman it is not long before Anthony and Markus bring us our dinner.
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 was equally impressed with her vegan doubles, in fact she has been raving about it ever since. Two Turmeric infused flatbreads topped with a delightful garlicky chickpea curry, companied with a hot tamarind sauce and a cucumber salsa. This epitome of Trinidad’s street food culture was spicy, messy and sensational, one for carnivores and vegans alike.
We went a bit crazy on the starters/sides as they all looked so tantalising, as well as all priced at under a fiver so we simply could not resist! Saltfish fritters, fried dumplings, vegan patties potato rosti, and polenta chips surrounded our main plates and each dish was shear perfection. The fritters were very tasty indeed, crispy, chewy and delicately seasoned so great for dipping in the various sauces that come with the mains, as were the plantain and potato rostis that had a gentle sweet aftertaste. The handmade vegan patties were insanely good, a light crisp pastry generously stuffed full of a lavish filling of Ackee, spices, vegan cheese and chilli’s that tasted divine. My personal favourite that I will be ordering every visit, is the spicy polenta chips, though I am not sure how Caribbean they are. Vegan friendly lightly salted crisp and chewy cheesy morsels that left me hankering for more. Oh, and do not forget to order the delicious traditional fried dumplings to mop up all the gravy.
Anyone who regularly cooks Caribbean food will tell you that there are very fixed ideas about the “right” way to do things, as recipes get handed down through the generations. What makes Yamee work great as a concept is that Anthony brings his vast knowledge of how to cook traditional dishes, and Markus, who has no pre-conceived ideas about this style of cooking, is eager to put his own spin on the proceedings. This combined produces some inspired and exceptionally tasty dishes that will have you coming back to the Coopers Cask pub time and time again. Or if that seems like too much effort then their delicious dishes are only a mouse click or phone tap away.
Yamee at the Coopers Cask. 3 Farm Rd, Hove BN3 1FB, 01273 736945.