Bubbas, a new fine-dining Caribbean restaurant, opened its door to its Tulse Hill neighbours in March this year. I was lucky enough to be invited to the opening which was a vibrant event offering plenty of beautifully-presented tasty treats from savoury to sweets. I took a particular shine to the jerk chicken tulips; so much so that I’m sure the waitress serving them thought I was stalking her as I followed her around the room!
What I was most thrilled about though, was that I’d also been offered the opportunity to do a one-to-one cooking masterclass with their Michelin-trained head chef, Anthony Cumberbatch. I’d met and chatted to him briefly on the opening night and he seemed like a lovely man, but importantly, an amazing chef that I could learn a lot from.
I was asked beforehand if there was anything in particular that I’d like to learn from my first masterclass. As I can never make a good jerk mix from scratch, that was my first thought, though I also asked Cumberbatch to show me how to create a good-quality Jamaican oxtail and butterbean stew. Not to mention jerk ketchup not unlike the jar that was given to us on Bubbas’ opening night. Would Cumberbatch be willing to share his recipe? I sure hoped so.
On the day, I was fitted in a chef jacket and apron, making me feel the part. After a kitchen tour (which didn’t take long as its’ extremely small – think shoe box-size), and team introductions we got down to the nitty-gritty: recipes. We went through the making of a Jamaican favourite Guinness punch too. Cumberbath was very patient (I had lots of questions) and really generous with his time, offering lots of tips. He’s a charismatic and funny guy and we had good banter during the class along with the rest of his team.
As an unexpected bonus, I then got to dine as a guest in the restaurant area. It was just myself in there, as it hadn’t opened for guests at that time, so it’d be unfair to review it as a proper dining experience. But I can tell you this – I ate extremely well, with all of the food being presented very attractively:
Starter – Jerk belly pork, nut crunch and apple chutney. I wolfed this down. Belly pork is one of my favourite cuts of meat, and the way this was cooked didn’t disappoint – gutsy and punchy with the nut crunch adding contrasting texture and taste. The apple chutney brought the dish together well.
Main – Three fish medley (scallop, giant king prawn, snapper) with potato mousse balls and a side of okra. The fish was perfectly cooked with a nice red pepper sauce. The okra had a good bite to it and was cooked in a tasty tomato sauce.
Dessert – Rum carrot cake with a carrot sorbet. The cake looked denser than it actually was and tasted ok. However, the accompanying carrot sorbet didn’t really taste of much, and I would have preferred something more contrasting or complimentary in flavour.
This was all washed down with a ‘Bubbas Bubbles’ cocktail.
I was ready to go into a food coma after all that, but Cumberbatch asked if I wanted to see a bit of service. At that point Bubbas had opened and orders were being taken. I was keen, and enquired of Cumberbatch if he had a Gordon Ramsey-style temperament when in service. He said he did, but I didn’t actually see it – perhaps he was on his best behaviour with yours truly breathing down his neck. The kitchen was buzzing and the vibe from the frenetic pace was invigorating during my usual after dinner-slump.
Watching him deliver the service was like watching a conductor guide his orchestra – calmly and firmly leading the way. I cheekily asked sous chef, David if Cumberbatch was on his best behaviour because I was there, like I thought. He chuckled and replied in the positive. After watching them work half of their service, my sofa started to call my name, so I bid a fond farewell. As I left, I was given a doggy-bag of the day’s cooking, with the oxtail making for a lovely lunchtime treat the next day. You can see more pictures from the day here.
A massive thanks to all the Bubbas team. It was a fun-packed eventful day.
7A Station Rise, Tulse Hill, London SE27 9BW
Tel: 020 8674 4114
Oh, and about that jerk ketchup recipe….I got it! Here you go: