by Thuli Weerasena0
Neon Reviews: Rotishop, NW17
Living in SE8, venturing any further North than Stoke Newy has been a bit of a myth. I usually view anything located with an N postcode with suspicion given the prospect of a journey consisting of three changes on the Tube and a rail replacement bus service. That was until I heard about Rotishop, a joint in Tottenham that specialises in ‘Carnival Fusion Cooking’ inspired by Guyana and the island of Trinidad. As someone who could eat Jamaican Jerk for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; I was drawn by the prospect of getting a few more stamps on my Caribbean culinary passport.
Rotishop forms part of the space at Styx, a mixed arts venue consisting of a club in converted warehouse, a covered bar and terrace, and an urban garden complete with a mini-river and bridge. If this were Dalston, then there would droves of hypebeasts rocking the latest Supreme x North Face collaboration dawdling about. Thankfully, there are none in sight when I arrive at Rotishop. In fact, there are not many people in sight at all. Although, that may be explained by the fact it is relatively early on a Thursday evening. However, the sound of ‘Doo Wop’ by Lauryn Hill followed by Erka Badu’s ‘On & On’ playing over the speakers is enough to lift the mood as I peruse the menu.
The rotating menu at Rotishop aims to make signature Caribbean dishes accessible to the ever-popular fast-casual dining in London. Unsurprisingly, their speciality are Roti skins – a flatbread which was brought to Guyana and Trinidad by Indian settlers. The roti is handmade from scratch and served ‘buss-up’ or wrapped with an eclectic array of dishes reflecting the African, British, French, and Creole roots of Caribbean cuisine. My eyes lit up when I saw they had Saltfish Fritters on the menu but I was informed that the fryer had decided to pack it in. However, I was not too disheartened by the news as I have grown accustomed to the deadpan expression of “We nuh ‘ave dat” whenever I ask for my favourite, Curry Goat, in my local Jerk spot. The duo at the helm of Rotishop that day were much more forthcoming and seemed determined to make up for the impotent fryer, which did help to soften the blow a little.
To make up for the lost fritters, I decide to sample all three available items on the menu: Ital Vegan Stew, French Creole Chicken Curry, and a Guyanese Pepper Pot Stew – all served with Roti, Plantain, and Coleslaw. The Ital Vegan Stew consisting of Market Vegetables, Sweetcorn, and Sweet Potato had the potential to be a drab affair but was brought to life through the addition of Jerk seasoning, Ginger, Chilli, and Coconut. The beef in the Guyanese Pepper Pot Stew had been slow-cooked in a sweet and spicy sauce and went well with the plantain and coleslaw sides. The meat itself, resembling pulled brisket, was succulent, although did not exactly melt in the mouth. The French Creole Chicken curry was by far the best of all three dishes and had a familiar warming piquant flavour to it. The Coconut Milk based sauce of the curry was perfect to mop up with the Roti. Ah, the Roti. It was perfect. Flaky, buttery, and robust. You could tell it was made with love and attention. For a joint called Rotishop, it certainly does live up to its name.
The dishes I had, as well as everything else on the menu, was priced at under a tenner. The portions were very reasonable and the guys at Rotishop will make sure you are looked after properly. Yet, is a trip to Rotishop worth three Tube changes and a rail replacement bus service? Potentially. The Roti is great, but, I felt that they could afford to go bolder and braver with the flavouring and spice on their dishes. On the other hand, if I lived in North I would have no qualms about going back again for their Roti. Rotishop do have plans to go mobile soon and plan on doing pop-ups at festivals. So hopefully I won’t have to cross the river again to get my hands on more of their Roti