Beyond Legend, my Bob Marley Greatest Hits CD, a serviceable knowledge of West Indian fast bowlers, knowing the historical link between an Ethiopian Emperor and Rastafarianism and a disastrous honeymoon in the Dominican Republic (food rather than relationship issues) my general knowledge of all things Caribbean is fairly limited. I could wax lyrical on Italian, French, Indian, Chinese, Malaysian, Greek, Scandinavian, Nepalese, Korean, North African, South American and Eastern European food but beyond the obvious jerk chicken and a couple of other favourites my knowledge of Caribbean food is limited. It was, therefore, with great anticipation that we set off during the summer holidays for a family lunch at the ultimate Caribbean eatery in Liverpool: Raggas in Bold Street, the 3rd restaurant of Ragga and his family and friends, the other two being well placed in Lark Lane and Smithdown Road.
Think chilled out Pirates of The Caribbean but in vivid yellow and green with barrels and wooden cases here and there around the room
We entered into a long thin relaxed dining room with a forward bar and then a long banquette with tables, opening up towards the rear of the room. It is decorated in an archetypal Caribbean way: think chilled out Pirates of The Caribbean but in vivid yellow and green with barrels and wooden cases here and there around the room. This is a very informal and relaxed dining space with buckets of cutlery on your table and a lovely friendly service from the staff both the young girl and the main guy, who straight away enquired how Fidget, my eldest was. This impressed Fidget very much!
We were quickly seated and drinks orders taken, Fidget and I went for the delicious ‘real’ lemonade whilst Red had fresh mango, equally refreshing. It being lunchtime, I opted for items from the Quick Tings menu, at around £5 a dish I thought these were like tapas but they are not, they are full meals and hence the mild surprise look from the waitress and the “you greedy sod” look from Red. Anyway I chose the boneless tilapia and their famous jerk chicken with a side of coconut rice. Red chose the jerk chicken sandwich, Fidget went for the curry goat with dumplings and sweet potato fries.
My first dish, the tilapia, was excellent, being very well cooked and moist. It had a delicate spiciness that did not overpower the beautiful fish and contained just enough sauce to soak well with the light and delicious coconut rice. Likewise my second dish, the jerk chicken, was also very good. It had a rich saltiness and was also moist and well cooked. It lay with a side of salad which soaked in the well seasoned jerk sauce. Red’s jerk chicken sandwich was good with the chicken coming coated rather than in a sauce to ensure the bread did not become soggy, though the addition of mayo prevented it being dry in any way. Fidget’s goat curry was an enticingly earthy dish, with the meat melting away in your mouth as you ate it. It was relatively mild as curry goes, a long way from the brow sweating heat of many Indian curries. This is, typically Caribbean, a chilled out curry, but very good nonetheless. Within it there were sumptuously dumplings which gave the dish an extra doughy comfort. The accompanying sweet potato fries looked a little charred but were in fact surprisingly good.
As a consequence of my ‘tapas’ faux pas I could not manage a full dessert so we got 2 between the 3 of us, the 9 mile cheesecake and a spiced apple pie. Both were very good. The cheesecake had a deep biscuit base, a foamy creamy top with fresh strawberries and raspberries and cream. The spiced apple pie was even better. Delicate pastry, well spiced soft apple filling and poured cream. The only criticism of the desserts would be that the apple pie was a smallish portion, though to be fair the cheesecake was quite generous.
The cheesecake had a deep biscuit base, a foamy creamy top with fresh strawberries and raspberries and cream
Anyway, a very enjoyable meal and I place I would like to visit again to try some of the other dishes like the Jamaican patties or saltfish fritters and so expand further my knowledge of Caribbean cuisine. The place was a busy mix of people and had a chilled, relaxed vibe (I am starting to sound like David Brent now aren’t I?) As I am sat here typing this getting ready for Test Match Special to talk me through England’s Ashes victory, I can’t help but be reminded of my one other Caribbean reference and that huge reggae hit by 10CC Dreadlock Holiday which contains the wonderful line “I don’t like cricket, I love it!”
Type: family / budget restaurant
Service: 8.5/10 Very relaxed and friendly
Atmosphere: 9/10 a great laid back atmosphere, friendly and chilled.
Food: 8.5/10 excellent all round, the tilapia in particular was delicious.
Value for money: 9/10 the Quick Tings are a real bargain, just remember they are full dishes not tapas!
Overall: 8.75 a great place for a relaxed meal, good food and a trendy vibe. Think reggae meets bohemia.
These are judged against the best of that type of restaurant. For example cafes against what you would expect from the best cafes, high end restaurants against the best high end restaurants etc.
Website: Raggas Bold Street