How far would you travel for a taste of the Caribbean?
Seasoned traveller Ivo Belohoubek of DoGoodFilms lucky didn’t have to venture too far to share his culinary experience at Big Mike’s Calypso Kitchen located in East Croydon – just 20mins by train from Central London. And with dine-in returning from 17th May, diners can consume food indoors or soak up the lively al fresco atmosphere!
I travel a lot, and I travel for living. With a light at the end of the Covid tunnel, I too am looking at the list of countries we will be allowed to visit and allow myself a bit of daydreaming about sun, sea and tasty food which forms an important part of my travel habit.
So I couldn’t resist the call from editor in chief, Kai, to visit Big Mike’s Calypso Kitchen: a Bajan (yes, I had to google it too – it stands for everything from Barbados) joint in Croydon’s gem BOXPARK. So with some sunshine breaking through the clouds I allowed myself a culinary trip to the tropical paradise of Barbados via Croydon.
Black-owned, run by Mike – a charismatic entrepreneur and chef from Barbados – Calypso kitchen is a simple ‘no-frills’, charming and colourful jerk shack (for a lack of a better term) serving Caribbean classics such as goat curry, jerk chicken, pork and a few specials such as vegan fried chicken that I was also keen to try.
I was given a tray overflowing with selected dishes from the menu served in portion-sized disposable bowls, and a colourful snow cone that is guaranteed to give you a brain freeze. I was happy I came hungry.
I started with Bajan Fishcakes, perfectly shapes bite sized entrée for a Caribbean feast.
Next on the menu were festivals: golden sweet and crusty Caribbean finger sized dumplings perfect for mopping up sauce. For someone with a dumpling history (I am Czech) this is the ultimate test. They passed and we bonded.
I move on to the Big Mac Cheese. I admit I wouldn’t choose it – ever – but when in Rome… Word is that in Barbados this is a cultural institution and it was Mike’s mum’s recipe. So although I am not a fan of the dish, this was delicious and I will have it again! Thanks Mike for changing my mind.
The Vegan Fried Chicken (Jack Fruit) was a dish I was both excited and curious about. I often judge restaurants about the quality of their vegetarian and vegan offering because it takes skill and shows that you care about those who may not have the same culinary attitude as you. And I was impressed! The jackfruit’s meaty texture with fantastic Caribbean seasoning was a highlight I won’t forget and I will recommend to anyone who ventures to Big Mike’s Calypso Kitchen.
The jerk chicken and jerk pork were classics bringing in intense smoky aroma of the distant barbecue on the beach. Mike knows how to make jerk and he knows it well. That’s why I came here and I left with a takeaway box with all the leftovers because it was too good to leave behind. I happily tucked into it over lunch next day and it was just as delicious as on the plate in Mike’s Calypso Kitchen.
Overall impression: Simple, great, tasty and creative food for everyone who comes to this part of town and I hope you add Big Mike’s Calypso’s Kitchen to your list of places to visit in Croydon!
Look out for Big Mike’s Sunday Lime and Al Fresco Dine (Caribbean hang out – think steel pan band, fully stocked bar, and of course an awesome BBQ menu) from 6th June, and Big Mike’s Calypso Kitchen Festival coming this summer.
Full menu is available at: www.bigmikesck.com
Order online at http://www.bigmikesck.com or call: 020 8680 0999. Available for collection, and delivery within three miles of Boxpark Croydon. Follow on IG: @bigmikesck
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