Rhythm Kitchen 6.8/10
VALUE FOR MONEY: 6.5/10
VENUE & ATMOSPHERE: 6.7/10
Note: No pork served on the menu. Alcohol is served here. Verbal assurance all meat is halal and halal sign in window, however not sure as to the method of slaughter.
Friday’s are usually date night, and tonight, I knew I was craving a Caribbean feast! Since moving to East London I have struggled to find an authentic, halal Caribbean takeaway. Nothing has ‘hit the spot’ like Afro Delight (Bristol) or Mish Mash (Birmingham). Anyway, after venting my frustrations and lack of options with ShakerFries, he reassured me to ‘leave it to him’. In all honesty, these four words rarely reassure me coming from my dear husband, but on this occasion, I may have to eat my words for being so presumptuous.
We arrived in Wathalmstow in good time. I was perplexed as to what ShakerFries had up his sleeve. Then I caught a glimpse of RHYTHM Kitchen, which I had seen previously in Stratford. In Stratford, Rhythm Kitchen only served halal chicken. I was wondering if ShakerFries had made the right call, but then as we walked in, I saw on the window that all meat served at this branch was halal. Exciting!
The restaurant was relatively busy with a diverse mix of people. It was a little noisy to start but I wasn’t overly phased as I recognize my irritation was probably down to my ‘hangriness’. I was so starving at this point that I was ready to order everything on the menu. To start we ordered some saltfish fritters (salted codfish fritters), served with sweet chilli mayo.
The starters took a while to arrive, but were worth it when they did. I felt the fritters were a bit colder than I would have wanted on arrival but ShakerFries was fine with it. I loved them. They were deliciously crisp on the outside, not overpoweringly fishy, and blended with the right amount of fragrant spices and peppers within. The sweet chili mayo was a perfect accompaniment with this starter, and for a while I was left satisfied. Needless to say I was looking forward to the mains.
Mains were a no brainer for me! Jerk chicken, rice and peas, extra gravy, dumplings, plantain, and coleslaw, all washed down with a can of Ting.
The mains took quite a long time to arrive. The restaurant was almost empty by the time we received our meal. That being said, the mains and sides all arrived at once which was great, and the food was piping hot this time. The jerk chicken was perfectly charred and crisp on the outside, (cooked fresh from the Jerk BBQ out back), and the aromatic taste of the jerk seasoning really came through. The chicken meat itself was equally pleasurable to eat, as it was tender and moist, unlike some of the other jerk eateries I have visited where I chicken was as dry as a bone! I received a generous portion of rice and peas, and what was even better, was that I received a generous pot of jerk gravy, so I really didn’t need to order extra. The Jerk gravy was BANGING. Sometimes when you go out of jerk chicken they give you this sweet jerk sauce (which they usually skimp on), but this jerk gravy was PERFECT, especially to eat with the rice. I even had some gravy left over to dip my dumplings in…AWESOME. If you haven’t done this, you haven’t lived. The plantain was sweet and perfectly ripe which tickled my taste-buds and broke up the savory flavors. The only thing I wouldn’t order again is probably the coleslaw, as it wasn’t as creamy as I would of liked, and it wasn’t too dissimilar to what you can buy from Tescos. I like the fine, slightly sweet and creamy slaw with my meal!
Overall, I did enjoy the food here and it’s the best, most satisfying Caribbean meal I’ve had since moving back to London. It’s more pricey than other places I’ve visited given that this is a proper restaurant. Our bill came to around £40 which given the quality of food and portion size, was fair. That being said, there are still a couple of teething issues, such as long waiting times for food, and forgetting to give us cutlery (twice). This branch has only been opened a few months so I’m sure these kinds of issues will get ironed out with time. Bar those those points, the waitresses were very warm and friendly, and I enjoyed (and demolished) my meal. I will definitely return to Rhythm Kitchen when my next Caribbean craving arises!