41 Cabul Road, London SW11 2PR
Just off Clapham Junction surrounded by a mix of residential housing and several studios, you will find Breadfruit, a Caribbean restaurant and bar. Breadfruit resides in the one-time private members bar and prior to that, the local pub in Cabul Road, and now thanks to the owner this venue is now open to the public.
Upon entering, you will immediately be presented with the large square bar, with it's generous collection of bottled beers and spirits (to suit all tastes), you will be quickly made welcome by the bar staff and the owner Charlotte English. To the right of the bar you will find the restaurant, and to the left a collection of leather sofas for weary travellers and local's to rest and recover with their favorite tipple.
We were greeted with a Breadfruit cocktail which immediately transported us to the Caribbean, with all its wonderful images.
By retaining the bar as the divider, the placement of tables and sofas, a relaxed and non-intrusive atmosphere has been created whether you've popped in for a drink or booked a table for the restaurant.
Seated at the table, we were presented with our starter Ackee and Bacon which proved to be a delicious variation on the original Caribbean dish Ackee and Saltfish. Our main courses were presented to us and consisted of Jerk Chicken with Banana Salad, Curried Lamb and Rice 'n' Black-eyed Peas.
The meal was delicious, the hot spices worked perfectly with the chicken, this combined with the banana salad created a meal in it's self, which was full of taste.
I think it was at this point that Charlotte became concerned that we were not enjoying the meal as we should, why, primarily because we sat there eating our jerk chicken, discussing life, the universe … and our jerk chicken; ignoring the curried lamb and rice 'n' peas.
This was soon remedied; the lamb was tender and very tasty. Rather than a thick sauce found in an Indian curry, this came with just the meat, the chunks of lamb each perfectly coated with the herbs and spices that made this an absolute delight (whilst not blowing your head off). The meaty chunks were generally the same size but uneven in shape and seemed to indicate that the meat was fresh and cut from the bone. Rather than the pre-prepared, pre-packaged meat that appears so often in such curries in this country.
Charlotte joined us as we were finishing our main course, which was incredibly good including the rice and peas. The discussion that followed really made the evening for me, Charlotte, is very a knowledgeable individual about food regardless of it being English, Chinese or Caribbean. Her attitude to the cooking is refreshing and passionate; she is always aiming to use fresh ingredients within her meals. This is totally reflected in her cooking in the restaurant, and this alone will guarantee a good meal at Breadfruit.
Charlotte's already had many of the recipes she uses in the restaurant published in newspapers within the UK; she is now compiling these for publication as a book. The book, which I'll be very happy to review (Charlotte, remember that) we hope to see in print soon, and I look forward to trying some of the recipes. It's certainly something to look forward to.
So Clapham Junction a little bit out of central London, is it worth the trip, if you do not live in the area? Most certainly! Going to Breadfruit is a pleasure, it's small, with six to eight tables, enabling Charlotte to concentrate on providing good quality, fresh and tasty meals in comfortable surroundings, with that critically important personal touch.
The food is delightful and interesting, so a return to Breadfruit, to enjoy some more of Charlotte's home cooking is on my list of things to do again very soon.
Tel: 0207 924 6162
Train: Clapham Junction
Adam Nelis, May, 2001
Recipes: Courtesy of Charlotte English, Breadfruit ©2000