I’ve long been a fan of Bristol’s Mediterranean-Caribbean fusion chain Biblos (trust me, the combo works); their spicy chicken wraps and generous platters have lined my stomach before many a boozy outing
When I heard that they’d taken over a unit in Wapping Wharf I was very excited indeed – a bit of Biblos on my commuting route and next to one of my favourite pubs in the city? Yes please.
They decided to go with a slightly more Caribbean vibe in this latest addition to their micro empire, and Calypso Kitchen certainly looks makes a good first impression, with tall ceilings and large windows, some funky themed decorations (the toilet is located inside a bit of a shipping container, I’m presuming a nod to the CARGO development a few metres away).
I was invited in to try some of their latest additions to the menu – namely the sharing platters. Good times.
In addition to said platters, the menu also has some funky kids dishes (Wraps, vegan gumbo, no fire jerk chicken, brown stew chicken) and Jamaican favourites such as jerk chicken, curry goat, and braised oxtail. On past visits I really enjoyed the goat curry and the jerk red mullet.
We went for the veggie platter to start (£12), which consisted of roasted sweet potato, roasted beetroot, olives, falafel, hummus, flatbread, grilled halloumi, and their own version of arancini (black-eyed peas and coconut risotto balls in breadcrumb coating).
It was a generous serving at the price, a good mix of flavours and textures. I particularly liked the falafel, the sweet and earthy roasted chunks of beetroot and the creamy, coconutty arancini. I’d have preferred the flatbreads warmed through, and the halloumi had cooled slightly by the time it got to us so had returned to being a bit rubbery, but still had a nice char from the grill.
Beware that this is very filling for a starter portion between 2, I reckon it could serve 4 easily if you were moving on to mains afterwards.
Next up, it was the meat platter for our main. Being the greedy so-and-so that I am, I also ordered some of their macaroni cheese, because I like it and even the fact that I was already semi-full at this point wasn’t going to put me off.
Again the platter came piled high with food and looking very appetising indeed. The smells from the slow cooked meats made my mouth water as soon as it arrived at the table.
So it looked and smelled good, but how did it taste?
First, the positives; the sauce that coated the jerk ribs was gorgeously sticky and rich, there wasn’t much meat on the ribs, but they are baby back ribs so not much to be done there. The boneless jerk fried chicken had a nice texture on the outside and had quite a subtle flavour – I could have done with more heat but that’s personal prefence.
The BBQ chicken wings were quite bland however, and the BBQ pulled pork was a bit dry but did have a nice smoky flavour, it just needed some more sauce or tenderness in the meat. In terms of sides, the rice was very tasty – well seasoned and slightly coconutty; the salad was good too (and included the tangy pickled turnip that I love in their wraps), and the fries also had a nice crunch and were just salty enough.
One of my favourite things about Biblos and Calypso Kitchen is the selection of sauces – you can choose from 4 Herb Mayo, Yemen, BBQ Sauce, Chilli Salsa, Tahini, Honey Mustard and Bajan Fire Chilli Sauce. I loved the delicate spice of the Yemen and the garlicky Bajan fire sauce (not hot, but the fruity flavour of scotch bonnet was there, just not the heat), but again was expecting a more fire, whereas they were all a bit tame.
The selection of drinks is good, with a decent selection of wines, beers and soft drinks alongside their cocktails. I tried a Mojito on the night and Tom went for Island Punch – both tasty and noticeably strong, but I preferred the fruity punch.
Calypso Kitchen is still finding its feet in terms of the newer parts of the menu – the established items such as wraps and jerk dishes are spot on whereas some items on the platters weren’t up to the same standard, but the place offers great value in a light and bright space in one of the coolest foodie neighbourhoods in town. Go and see what you think!
Gaol Ferry Steps
Disclaimer: We were invited to try out these new menu options free of charge, but we were not asked to send any copy in advance and these opinions are all our own, innit.