Bajan Spice, 28 Nunhead Green, SE15 3QF
Visited Friday 4 May 2012
None of us knew until now that “Bajan” meant “Barbadian”, neither had any of us been to Nunhead before. This truly is a voyage of discovery.
Bajan Spice is a modest take-away but, importantly, it is specifically Barbadian rather than generalised Caribbean. The friendly lady serving us was even sporting a bandana with the Barbados flag on it, and the menu featured many of the dishes we had come looking for. Perhaps fortunately, cou-cou was not on offer that day. Cou-cou is the Barbadian name for funge, which we have come across before in the cuisines of Antigua and Angola, and which consists of cornmeal or cassava dough with okra in it. It sounds horrible, and when we made it for Angola, it was. I am pretty sure we will be seeing this again before long though, so we had better start cultivating a taste for it.
Having dodged that bullet we ordered instead: Saltfish, steamed fish (both cod, we think) and oxtail with butter beans, together with side orders of macaroni pie and rice and peas.
This to be washed down with ginger beer and a Caribbean version of Lilt called “Ting”. The saltfish was very good, but so aptly named that I couldn’t finish it, my body eventually saying “no, sorry, that’s enough salt now”. Joe’s steamed fish came in a thin spicy sauce which went well with the rice and peas and was generally a success. Sophie also enjoyed her oxtail and butter beans, despite the apparent absence of any butter beans “is that one? No that’s macaroni. What about that one? No, that’s also macaroni” and the near-impossibility of removing the meat from the bone. Basically, it was a good sauce, is what she meant.
The side orders of macaroni pie were good too, great slices taken from an enormous tray of macaroni cheese, with a slightly pinkish hue that suggested some ketchup was involved.
So, good food on the whole, very pleasant service and a nice atmosphere, with regulars coming and going and shooting the breeze with the staff. We took some rum cake for dessert and repaired to the excellently-named Pyrotechnists Arms opposite to eat it with a rum and coke.