As a black, Jamaican woman, I endeavour to support and promote brands owned by the black community as they often are overlooked due to systematic oppression and lack of opportunity. In particular, it warms my heart to see Caribbean entrepreneurs flourish and reminds me of how great I can be also.
I’ve reviewed many restaurants and have been looking for black owned restaurants to tick off my list too. Where better to start than Jamaica Patty Co in Covent Garden who’s unique selling point is providing Jamaica’s favourite authentic street food- The Patty.
This has been the hardest review I have had to do to date and left me extremely conflicted. Read on to see why as I take you through my experience and on a deeper level some of the lack of honesty in food reviews.
Jamaica Patty Co was established by Jamaican entrepreneur Theresa Roberts in 2013. The idea was born out of her frustration at the lack of authentic Jamaican patties in the U.K. Since opening, the restaurant has had some shining reviews across the internet.
The store is just a short walk from Covent Garden station on one of the quieter streets. With a striking yellow and black colour scheme, it captures the essence of Jamaican culture without force feeding it down your throat.
The menu doesn’t only cover patties, but also has some really unique and authentic additions such as rum and raisin ice cream, soursop juice, blue mountain coffee and full West Indian meals.
The star of the show however, is definitely their patties; with unique creations such as curry goat patties and ackee and salt fish patties. The menu and variety truly impressed me. I was even more impressed to hear that you could also purchase frozen patties on line or buy their blue mountain coffee to take home.
Downstairs didn’t follow suit in my opinion but I have to commend their additional seating. It’s not often you find West Indian shops with seating at all, let alone one in central London. I feel downstairs was a little too simplistic and didn’t mimic the cosy vibe upstairs gave. It lacked the atmosphere and character you’d want to eat warm hearty food in.
Now onto the patties. I have to be brutally honest and say that I wasn’t impressed and sadly, was even a little disappointed. I had a beef patty and perhaps had extremely high expectations. Especially as there was such a focus on authenticity of the patties. The recipe was developed by a renowned Caribbean chef so surely they would be nothing less than amazing?
The beef filling was incredibly salty and paired with an already salty pastry, made it very average. It was by no means horrible but not what I would describe as authentic. As a girl who grew up on authentic patties in Jamaica where I was raised, this unfortunately missed the mark for me. They didn’t have the distinct patty flavour that separates patties from pastries.
Finally we split an ackee and salt fish patty too. I was really excited to try this and to get my guest to try it too as they had never tried ackee and salt fish. Again, I was rather disappointed. The combination just didn’t work for me and I didn’t end up finishing the patty. The texture of ackee doesn’t hold well in a patty as opposed to something like a fried dumpling instead. Ironically, the beef patty was saltier than the ackee and saltfish patty.
I have to mention that the owner and staff were lovely. Caribbean shops have a negative and unfortunately true reputation for bad service or being out of everything. I didn’t hear ” We nuh have dat ” and we were checked on during our meal.
I was very conflicted writing this because I pride myself on honesty and wanted to also support an amazing woman from my own country. I was hesitant at first because I didn’t feel this experience was the amazing experience I thought I was going to have and didn’t want to denounce a black owned business.
I will be returning to Jamaica Patty co as I want to give it another chance. There were some incredible items on the menu that I didn’t get to try besides the patties. Perhaps a different patty choice would work for me? Perhaps I would fall in love with the meals. As it stands, I commend the owner and the concept but I do feel the patties themselves could be improved. As this is their selling point; it would be a disservice to themselves to have these be anything but perfect.
Nonetheless, I do recommend a visit, especially if you want to support black owned businesses. We are sometimes quick to write off small business or companies that need our support as much as our criticism. I do believe they deserve our money. There is an incredible shortage of success stories like this one and who knows what great additions or amendments could happen in the near future.
Check out http://www.jamaicapatty.co.uk
The Food Doll.