Looking for restaurants in Dalston? Read our review of Island Social Club, and check out more suggestions for eating in Hackney here.
Island Social Club in a nutshell
A nightly celebration of rum and roti in a stripped-back setting in Curio Cabal, Haggerston, for a must-visit 12-month residency in 2019.
Marie Mitchell (on the food) and Joseph Pilgrim (on the drinks), best known for Rumshop, Rotishop and Pop’s Kitchen, are the team behind this modern pop-up.
What’s the vibe?
Very East London – wooden tables, school chairs, herringbone floors, and succulents in concrete pots – but with a buzzy warmth.
What’s the food like?
There’s not much to choose from but everything hits the spot. The homemade bussup-shut roti is an absolute must-order – everything else is a vehicle for this buttery, flaky friend. Curry mutton has a heat that builds – a ‘lickle kick’ they call it on the menu – punchy with scotch bonnet, ginger and garlic. Colombo de poulet (our favourite), inspired by the French Islands, is incredibly light and fragrant, coconut milk bathing a combo of tender chicken, sweet pumpkin and cho-cho, which is a sponge for flavour.
Coleslaw is a far cry from the mayo-slathered, soggy sides of yore – locally grown cabbage, carrot and red onion are brought to life with a sprightly lime dressing. Plantain is cooked two ways, boiled skin-on, then blackened on the grill, and is addictive when dunked into a sweet and sour tamarind sauce, or if you’re feeling daring, the hot pepper.
And the drinks?
If you’re a fan of rum, the drinks here are worth the visit alone. Think family rum punch recipes – from Ma’boat (inspired by Joseph’s Grenadian father), to Trini Lime and Ti’ Punch in another ode to the French Islands. Jinga beer wows – homemade ginger beer with zippy lemon and ginger, stiffened up with rum and gin, and topped up with a creamy, frothy Belgian beer. Scotchy margaritas are livened up with, you guessed it, scotch bonnets and are all the better for it.
If you order the dessert of cornbread with sweet chilli jam and vanilla ice cream – and you should because there’s only one, so it’s ideal to share – ask for extra chilli jam.
Island Social Club at Curio Cabal, 258 Kingsland Road, London E8 4DG
Words by Laura Rowe
Photographs by Chiron Cole