‘What? Queens Park now has a Caribbean restaurant?’ you cry. Actually, no. That’s Queens Park, Barbados where my winter getaway offered an easy headline and the opportunity to cross-check the quality of local Caribbean food. ‘Whaat? Kensal Rise has a new Caribbean restaurant?’ you shout even louder. Certainly does. Calm down and I’ll spill the rice and beans on Island on the Rise.
Much selfless research of Bajian street stalls, sunset bars, shacks and backstreet eateries revealed a couple of key ingredients in those Caribbean greats – so let’s see how Island on the Rise stacks up…
Traditional family favourites served up bustin’ with flavours? Rich curried goat, just-made dumplings and patties, crispy fried chicken, barely-charred jerk pork that slaps and tickles the tastebuds… Yup, they’re all there, fresh as can be and made from scratch.
And this is hearty stuff, so resist any post-Crimbo temptations to be all January detoxy and play it healthy with a salad. You need to have that creamy coleslaw with your order, you’ve got to have spicy gravy drowning them rice and peas, and mac & cheese counts as a side here. Oh yeah, IotR got dishes licked. And if you only fancy a quick snack to go, the chicken, beef and vegetable patties (pictured below), £2.50, are alone worth dropping in for.
The other authentic ingredient in Barbados? The warmest of welcomes. ‘Friendly’ just doesn’t do the locals justice and none of it’s forced. OK, some might argue this ain’t necessarily so across all the Caribbean islands, but it’s certainly the attitude taken to heart at Island on the Rise.
This Kensal Rise restaurant is a proper family joint: Beverly (pictured, above left) is the affable owner and chef; you’ll often find her mother in the kitchen helping cook, her daughter is regularly at the front serving, and chances are one of Beverly’s siblings are there mucking in too.
Indeed, Island on the Rise is a place that welcomes everyone with open arms and a totally genuine smile. Just strike up a conversation and see where it takes you. So how’s about you put down those Christmas and New year’s leftovers, switch off that re-run and cram some sunshine into your pie hole…
Take your appetites to the Caribbean by way of a trip to Island on the Rise: you’ll thank us.
Island on the Rise: open Tuesday to Wednesday 9am–8pm, Thursday to Saturday 9am–11pm, Sunday 12pm–6pm. Free delivery on orders over £12 within three miles. Opposite Kensal Rise overland train station.