Rum, rum rum, and rum. Rum based cocktails, rum infused meat, rum desserts and, oh, more than 375 different rums to choose from on the awe-inspiring rum menu. Welcome to Cottons Notting Hill, the flagship new branch of a successful family of London Caribbean restaurants.
Sitting just a short stroll from Notting Hill Gate station, a sky-blue exterior and tropical statement
planters mark the entrance to the restaurant. The floor-to-ceiling glass frontage reveals a colourful
interior packed full of contagious Caribbean spirit. And one glance at the bar offers an eyeful of brightly coloured bottles and exotic fruit-filled jars.
Cottons is already an established name in Caribbean food in north London, and this venture west promises to follow suit. On the ground floor, seating is arranged around a central bar and opposite is a hand painted floor-to-ceiling wall mural depicting a vibrant, tropical jungle scene. Suspended brass lighting with filament bulbs hang from the ceiling, creating a traditional tikki shack feel. The only thing missing is some authentic music. The background noise of remixed 80s rock classics just doesn’t seem to fit in at all and gives a weird ambience to an otherwise authentic venue.
The Glass House main restaurant is behind the main bar and offers a bright and airy dining room filled with natural light through a large skylight. The authentic décor is completed with oak wood flooring, beamed ceilings and a scattering of bonsai plants.
Traditional Caribbean cuisine such as Barbecue glazed pork belly with rum and molasses (£7); Guyanese 48 hour slow cooked Beef pepper pot with fondant potatoes (£17) and Broad bean, okra and aubergine Cassoulet with pepper and onion cous cous (£18) are all served daily. And we went for all of the above!
There is no compromise on taste when it comes to Caribbean cooking, and our meals did this philosophy justice. Packed with intense flavour, each dish was an attack on the senses. Visually stunning and mouthwateringly tender, the dishes are simply superb. Other starters include Monk Cheek Accra or a coconut-spiced seafood broth, and for mains other options are curried crab and cornmeal dumplings, and a Trinidadian steamed Red Mullet in Chadon beni garlic butter, served with provision salad. The choice is expansive and the kitchen are accustomed to accommodating food allergies or preferences, so my coconut allergy didn’t present a problem, and our waitress happily consulted with the kitchen before recommending certain dishes.
All of the cocktails at Cottons are rum-based so we ploughed our way through the menu. There are the classics you would expect such as mohitos and coladas as well as innovative and beautiful offerings such as the Cottons punch – a blend of wray & Nephew overproof rum, guava and pineapple juice, with a touch of grenadine- delicious, or the Killer Doppi – created to turn the living into a ‘doppi‘ (that’s Jamaican for ghost) made with four different rums, apricot liqueur and blue curacao mixed with orange and pineapple juices. Certainly not for the faint-hearted!
But the ultimate attraction at Cottons, which is renowned as a Rhum Shack, is the rum menu. Boasting the biggest selection of rums behind one bar in the UK, the venue may actually make the Guinness Book of Records next year for its collection. To see it is to believe it, and there are far too many to detail here. But the servers can advise which one will be right for you, and happily top you up when you find your perfect drink. Take your time and enjoy though, these are tastes to be savoured, and savour we did.
The original Cottons opened in Camden over 30 years’ ago and is still thriving today, while the Street
Food extraordinaire Boxpark Cottons in Shoreditch launched three years ago. Cottons Notting Hill
will be the couture sister to the brand offering a more refined experience, but still keeping the colourful
vibe and authentic Caribbean flavours for which Cottons is renowned.
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