Monty’s Caribbean Kitchen is a story of success, and it’s down to hard work but mostly it’s the damn delicious jerk chicken.
Why it’s on my list
I have to admit, Monty’s isn’t new to me. There was a time when this little Caribbean delight was just a van that parked up near Sainsbury’s on Saturday nights offering tasty boxes of jerk chicken or pork, some rice and peas and a bit of coleslaw on the side to take home and devour. It was heaven, and clearly I wasn’t the only one to think so – Monty’s expanded and now has a brick-and-mortar gig in the centre of Barnstaple. Since this expansion I haven’t been back, but I’ve wanted to for a very long time. And in the last two weeks I have had two occasions to rectify this.
Location: Tuly Street, Barnstaple
Opening times: Lunch is 11.30am-3pm, Tuesday to Saturday, dinner is 6pm-11pm Thursday-Saturday
To book: Call 01271 372985 or 07939433461
My memory hasn’t failed me, Monty’s Caribbean Kitchen is as good as it has ever been, and you can tell that the business has matured. It’s friendly and welcoming but also polished, and they’re offering diners plenty of new things to try.
This kind of place makes my heart sing, and the fact that it began here in North Devon makes me really happy. You won’t find all the hipster trends of London taking off here, cereal cafes or avocado restaurants wouldn’t stand a chance, but Monty’s is proof that delicious food with a difference can take off here and really thrive.
Also I found out that they had a float in Barnstaple carnival one year…amazing!
What I had
We popped into the restaurant one Saturday afternoon to get a takeaway and relive our previous experiences when it was a catering truck in Roundswell. Which of course meant a couple of jerk porks with rice and peas, and coconut and lime coleslaw. A new addition for us was pineapple salsa, mmm!
We went to Green Man Festival, which is held annually in July in Pilton. Big processions, lots of music, cider, Pimms and tombolas are everywhere, and of course lots of food. Monty’s catering truck was there, as well as some huge oil drums which were barbecuing the jerk chicken baps. As I’d recently had a knife and fork jobby just the other week, I thought a jerk chicken bap with coconut and lime coleslaw and a nice helping of sweet pepper sauce would be ideal.
The chicken bap was so good – words can hardly describe it, and I certainly lost the ability to string proper sentences together whilst I was enjoying it. The chicken thigh (no bones) was juicy and had a wonderful level of spice, and everything that went with it was a great complement. The bap, courtesy of East and West Bakery in Barnstaple, was soft but sturdy, coleslaw had a healthy hint of coconut and lime. And of course a good helping of sweet pepper sauce set the whole thing off.
Not the best
Now this is nostalgia talking, but when Monty’s was a truck the jerk pork was a piece of pork, possibly loin, and I loved it. Now it’s pulled pork, and whilst yes it was delicious, it wasn’t quite the trip down memory lane I envisaged. Maybe he’ll bring it back one day? If not, it was still tasty, but who knows I may get more adventurous and try ackee and saltfish next time!
As we didn’t eat in I don’t have a huge amount to say – but from the few things I did see at the restaurant, it’s a wonderfully decorated place, light and airy, and above all welcoming.
The branding is fun and at Green Man Festival I absolutely loved the oil drums that were cooking the chicken for the baps. Seriously cool.
Make sure to get some sweet pepper sauce, it’s really delicious. You can also buy jars of it now, ideal present for a very lucky loved one!