VALUE FOR MONEY: 6.5/10
VENUE & ATMOSPHERE: 7.5/10
NOTE: All meat is halal. No alcohol is served on the premises. BYOB policy applies
Guanabana has been on our list of places to hit for ages. The only thing is, public transport isn’t appealing in winter and we are often put off with the drive into Central London, given that there are plenty of closer options for dinner. On this occasion, the stars had aligned for two reasons: 1. We were double dating with Pakora and her unmistakably Tory boy fiance Adz. Clearly, as an adopted Scouser, whilst coming from a working class, Asian backgound, and having an ounce of common sense, I generally have no desire to mix with Tory gobshites. Although there is no love lost between myself and the milk snatching shithouse supporters of Thatcher, Adz is actually a good lad, just a tad confused on which way his bread is buttered. Anyway, I digress, the second reason I was keen on Guanabana was the fact that I could finally scratch my Caribbean food itch having been let down on 2 previous occasions when trying to order Caribbean food (why are Caribbean places always out of food at like 6pm??).
You know you’re going to be in for a treat when you walk in and the smell just has you in a trance – That’s exactly how Mrs Plug and I felt sitting at the table waiting for the other 2 to arrive. The place was heaving with a couple of birthday parties, some friendship groups, and couples just out for a romantic meal. In the end, we took our friend’s order over the phone in the hope the food would arrive around the same time as them. Generally, we didn’t mess around with starters – just 1 beef dish (churassco steak) to whet the appetite. It was slightly tough but the Adobo jerk seasoning made the dish extremely tasty. Mrs. Plug opted for a lychee mojito, which was refreshing and not too sweet.
For mains, there was no question what I was going to order: half a jerk baby chicken (peppery & spicy) with rice & peas, plantain, and extra gravy. When it arrived, I didn’t speak to anyone at the table until literally my last bite. Maybe I was just hungry, but I haven’t had a meal that hit the spot like this one in a very long time. Where to start? I was delighted to find the seasoning on the jerk surpassed the highly flavoursome churassco – basically like when you see Hangover 1 and are excited for Hangover 2…then Alan gives that speech at the dinner table and you realise part 2 is even better than the already hilarious original. The extra gravy shout was exactly the right move, it had a great spice level, was tasty and accompanied the rice and peas perfectly so that it didn’t taste dry. Despite the portion size being perfect to fill my belly, I was distraught when the meal came to an end, which, believe me, is the biggest compliment I could deliver.
Mrs. Plug looked on enviously but luckily for her, she didn’t stray too far from my order. She opted for a jerk chicken burger, which after one bite caused her to smile from ear to ear. Our taste buds differ in that I wouldn’t dream of ordering sweet BBQ jerk over a spicy jerk flavour, but she claimed that the sweet BBQ taste was subtle, the brioche soft, and the flavours amazing, with a good spice level. The sweet potato fries which accompanied the burger were cooked to perfection, with a crispy exterior and a smooth sweet interior. The creamy coleslaw was also a hit, and with a slight sweet tang, it was the perfect accompaniment to all our dishes. Adz ordered a sirloin steak, and I’m led to believe it was also a source of delight with the steak being cooked perfectly to medium rare. Pakora ordered chicken fajitas (each to their own), but also wasn’t displeased with the end result.
Overall, I’m pretty sure I was probably the most satisfied with my meal closely followed by Adz and Mrs. Plug, so in conclusion, just go for the jerk chicken ASAP if that’s your thing, then look to experiment with other stuff on future visits, you wont be disappointed. 1 starter, 4 mains and 4 drinks (1 soft drink and 3 lychee mocktails) came to just over £100. This wasn’t surprising given the location and quality of food. If you’re in the mood for a flavoursome meal which really allows your palette to appreciate a diverse range of Caribbean spices without being too overbearing, I would definitely recommend this place…unless you are a Tory, in which case the best thing to do would be to follow in the footsteps of your hero’s, and in typical Tory fashion..make a U-turn!