Looking for Caribbean restaurants? Want to know where to eat in Oxford? Read our expert review of Spiced Roots, and find more places to eat in Oxford here.
Spiced Roots in a nutshell
Escape the crowds in Oxford for the pan-Caribbean cuisine served in Spiced Roots, with service as warm as its house-made hot sauce.
Charming Trinidadian chef Jumoke (Jamo) Brewster opened Spiced Roots in 2016 with friend Michael Krah (whose parents are Ghanaian) with the aim of bringing the vibrancy of the Caribbean to this most genteel corner of England.
What’s the vibe?
With uplifting reggae music playing in the background, seafront murals and beach shack bar vibes, it’s easy to settle into the chilled Caribbean state of mind, as soon as you step into Spiced Roots.
What’s the food like at Spiced Roots?
Taking influence from across the Caribbean – from Jamaica to Trinidad, Barbados and beyond – the menu is a modern and expansive interpretation of the colourful cuisine. Expect the likes of crisp, fiery jerk chicken spring rolls, saheena (yellow split pea and spinach fritters) served with an addictively sweet, sour and earthy tamarind and cumin sauce, and buljol (traditionally a salad of salt cod, peppers, chillies and tomatoes) transformed into croquettes and served with smoked pepper aïoli, to start.
For mains, it’s a tough choice between mellow curry goat, tender corn-fed jerk chicken, and Guyanese pepperpot beef. The latter wins, though, for its fall-apart meat, glossy, rich and aromatic sauce, made with cassareep from cassava root, as it should be, and bags of spice. Dark and sticky rum cake with stewed pineapple and rum and raisin ice cream with an alcoholic equivalent of a donkey kick is a dream finish.
There’s also plenty of Ital vegan options, as you’d expect – from a meat-free Grenadian oil down, to banana bread made with heirloom bananas.
And the drinks?
Rum is the word at Spiced Roots, as is tradition in the West Indies. Work your way through the extensive sipping rum collection, dare to try the infused rums on the counter, or opt for a tutored tasting and cocktail class (every Saturday, for groups of six-plus, for £29.99). The Kingston negroni – a blend of Appleton rum, Campari and Martini Rosso – is smoked with cherry wood, which is released at the table, over burnt orange peel. Wine is exclusively New World, and the fiery home-made ginger beer is the ultimate palate cleanser.
Don’t leave without ordering single-origin Blue Mountain Coffee. Jamo will recommend you take it without milk and sugar. Listen to him – it’s as smooth and bitter-free as you can get.
Words by Laura Rowe
Photos by Jolanta Sakalauskiene