You’ve been warned, visiting Antillean when it is cold and rainy is a serious mistake as you will be without a doubt longing to book a one-way flight to the Caribbean.
Nestled in trendy Southwark, you would never think what looks like a tiny restaurant, is in fact an incredible space of an old coaching inn which is lit with fairy lights and lanterns creating an inviting space. Walking through the intimate bar into the main beamed space is a fantastic sight, you are simply smack in the face with good vibes almost akin to the feeling of getting off a flight in the Caribbean in the middle of UK winter.
Antillean have a long list of classic and exotic cocktails with sips that are guaranteed to transport you to “island time”. In fact, they stock over 100 distinctive types of rum. We chose the twinkle for an sweet hit of elderflower and prosecco or if you’re embracing authenticity choose something rum-based like the smugglers cove, a delicious twist of Saint James Blanc Rum with lemon, honey and guava or the Nacional with Havana 3yo Rum, Apricot Brandy, Lime, Pineapple and Honey.
Antillean advocates family-style sharing, suggesting two starters each and a main. The portions aren’t huge so would definitely suggest going for ‘the more the merrier’ approach. For me, this meant huge amount of seafood and fish.
The undoubtable highlight of my meal was the chargrilled octopus which was so meaty and satisfying and contrasted amazingly with the aioli and fresh mango salsa. The umami taste of the sardines on hard dough bread with a fresh and tangy chilli mayo with a herb-lime vinaigrette was an absolute treat. Likewise the blue swimmer crab with mango, avocado, ginger and chilli would be the perfect option to enjoy with a drink after a day in the sun.
For mains, we chose the Caribbean barracuda, cou-cou, plaintain sofrito and mojo. This was a wonderful combination of melt in the mouth fish and crunchy veg. We also chose the crab claw curry with soft shell crab with rice and peas, an excellent combination of classic carribean tastes elevated to the next level.
We obviously had to choose some sides to go alongside with the mains and opted for the new flavours of callaloo, a kale-like green which was stir fried. Also, an absolute favourite of mine, plaintain chips which have the perfect combination of sweetness and saltiness.
The service was wonderful and the staff were delightful. We found out why after a chat with the manager who explained their hiring policy was based on personality not skills – an incredibly wise decision when the whole experience and almost theatre of eating out is sometimes more important than the food itself.
As we step into spring and you crave a taste of holiday, choose a trip to Antillean for delicious fusion food, wonderful staff and a lovely atmosphere – and no jet lag!