Shoreditch is an absolute foodie hotspot and whilst it has traditionally been seen as “Little Vietnam” given the number of high quality Vietnamese restaurants in the area it is great to see original restaurant that stand out in the area. Cottons is one such restaurant, the flagship restaurant is based in Camden and the second is in Notting Hill, with their third restaurant the pressure to remain authentic is intense given the impact that becoming a chain sometimes has on restaurant brands. Not to say that Cottons is necessarily becoming a chain so to speak but it is certainly become a recognisable brand, enhancing the brand awareness and accessibility of Caribbean cuisine to the mainstream (outside of The Notting Hill Carnival). Having only ever been to the Camden branch I was looking forward to sampling the menu at the exclusive food blogger Rum Masterclass and menu taster. Having grown up in Hackney I have been to numerous independent Caribbean restaurants and have many friends from across the Caribbean so I know what tastes good and what doesn’t when it comes to authenticity of taste. I was not disappointed by the food at Cottons at all, in fact it exceed expectations, as I discussed each dish with fellow foodies we were all impressed (our rum tasting session beforehand may have had something to do with our excitement too!). Cottons is a Pan-Caribbean restaurant, that is the dishes come from or are inspired by various countries from across The Caribbean so go there with an open mind and willing tastebuds.
We were treat to an excellent Angostura Rum Tasting masterclass in which we learnt about the history of the brand. It was a fascinating talk and gave us a great background into the rich cultural heritage of the brand and rum as a whole. I particularly enjoyed learning about the medicinal benefits of Bitters…I’ll let you do some research into what they are.
Here’s what we tasted:
- Angostura Aromatic Bitters
- Angostura Orange Bitters
- Amaro Di Angostura
- Angostura Reserva Blanca
- Angostura 5 Year Old
- Angostura 7 Year Old
- Angostura 1919
- Angostura 1824
The food was absolutely delightful, we had a steady stream of the starters and mains from the menu so we had the chance to try pretty much everything. Some of the starter dishes include Salt fish fritters with Spiced Mango Chutney and Chilli Jam, Barbecued chicken pieces with Mango chilli salsa, Crayfish and Lobster Mac N Cheese and Caribbean fish goujons. I absolutely loved the mac an cheese and would definitely return to Cottons just for that.
The mains were show stoppers, especially the Seafood platters and mixed meat platters. Mains include curried mutton with rice n peas, coleslaw and plantain, brown stew chicken with steamed rice and stir fried vegetables, Oxtail and bean stew with Steamed Rice, Trinidadian fish curry and Ital vegetable curry with dumplings.
The oxtail stew, curried mutton and fish curry stood out for me but I have to say that everything I tasted was absolutely wonderful, the flavours were balanced and everything was well seasoned. Some dishes could have been spicier but that’s because I’m a chilli friend.
Get down to the new addition to the Cottons restaurant family in Shoreditch, Curtain Road and tell your friends – it’s definitely worth it! www.cottons-restaurant.co.uk