Growing up in Bristol I was a regular attendee to the annual St Paul’s carnival in the city. This was a fantastic celebration of the food, drink and culture of the Caribbean and was always a massive party.
I remember the food and rum being a highlight, with people setting up bars and food stalls in their front gardens, serving home-cooked food and incredibly powerful rum punches and cocktails.
Since moving to this part of the country, this has been a culture and cuisine that has always been under-represented. One restaurant that is bringing the food, drink and culture of the Caribbean to Brighton is Bus Stop on North Road. Opened by partners Dominique and Danny, they have brought their love and experience of running a bar and restaurant in Barbados to Brighton, and it is everything you would hope for.
I paid them a visit for a late lunch, and was looking forward to reliving my St Paul’s carnival memories (well some of them).
The menu is divided into ‘pickings’, which can be used as starters or small plates to share, and ‘Mama’s hand’, which are the mains. Everything looks and sounds delicious, with plenty of fresh and interesting ingredients to get excited about.
I opt for the Bajan fishcakes to start followed by jerk chicken, of course, as main with a side of plantain and ‘Granny’s rice and peas’. I tuck into a refreshing rum sour from the excellent cocktail menu, the perfect drink for a sunny afternoon and something I would happily return for.
The Bajan fishcakes are made with salt fish and resemble a dumpling with a bread like texture – very different and interesting. Chef Danny used to have these for his school lunches he tells me, much better than my ham sandwich and cheese and onion crisps, and they are a real treat when dipped into the Marie Rose sauce. I cannot finish the generous portion, knowing what is to come, but could happily have done so.
My jerk chicken is a plateful of goodness. Succulent chicken with a charred BBQ flavour, which is further enhanced with the citrus tang and a spicy kick from the jerk seasoning. After some initial probing with my cutlery I decide that I am being too English and get stuck in with my fingers. The fried plantain is the best I’ve eaten, with a crisp coating and soft centre, and the fruity dip takes it up a level. Curried rice and peas add further levels of flavour, and leave me thinking that Granny was certainly onto something with this recipe.
I leave well fed and watered having enjoyed my lunch immensely. Bus Stop is about generous and tasty food that is good for the soul and leaves you smiling. There are plenty more choices on the menu I want to try – I hear the stuffed pork chop is a winner. A word of warning: if you are not great with chilli go easy on the home-made scotch bonnet sauce… hot stuff indeed.
99 North Rd, Brighton