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Spiced Roots

All too infrequently you have a culinary experience which makes a mark, which excites the taste buds and which gives you confidence that service and product are still held in the highest regard….but then being a rare occurrence is the reason these experiences are so special. B4’s Richard Rosser reviewed Spiced Roots, a simply magical restaurant run by a very talented, very charming and very passionate team which is quite rightly gaining national recognition.

For once in my life I was early, too early for the packed Spiced Roots to accommodate us….just by sticking our heads in the door, we could tell we were going to experience something special. The atmosphere was buzzing and as we closed the door to go and have a drink a few doors away, we had already been hooked by this wonderful restaurant which has won the accolade of ‘Best Caribbean Restaurant’ in the country.

So fast forward thirty minutes and we took our seats greeted with the broadest smile by the engaging Suffice who handed us the menus….’Banks!!! you serve Banks!!’ This made my night. The food was superb, the service faultless, the atmosphere incredible and the whole experience of Spiced Roots was second to none. But Banks and I go back a long way, Barbados’ number one beer now available at Spiced Roots in Cowley Road…I was in Caribbean heaven.

Maurice took our orders and continued to engage us throughout the evening, as did owner Jamo and curator of the restaurant’s specialist Rum Bar, Jordan which, sadly, never got a look in once I knew Banks was on the menu! However, it would be remiss of me not to quote Jordan so that you can get a feeling of just how much passion has gone into the Rum Bar.

“The History of the Caribbean is reflected in its people, traditions, rums and cocktails. Here at Spiced Roots we endeavour to share that rich history with you. Each drink has its own story and has been chosen to compliment the flavours from our food menu. Quality is of paramount importance to us so we use fresh fruit juices and make all our own tinctures and syrups in house. This menu was created with a few simple aims in mind: To revive old classics; create new ones and pay tribute to the drinking traditions across the West Indies. We have also added an exclusively New World, wine list to pair with our dishes and our new world cuisine.”

Why not try a Rum tasting & cocktail class? Classes are held every Saturday from 3 to 5pm for groups of 6 and more. Check out the website for more details and contact the restaurant for other corporate bonding and outside catering opportunities.

The food is quite simply out of this world. The website explains that Ital is a type of food from the Rastafarian Movement and means food that is natural, pure and of the earth. Long before veganism took hold as a universal food trend, Rastafari – one of the most internationally recognised cultural movements stemming from the Caribbean, already understood the importance of clean eating, just under a different name. This is reflected in the menu with a large presence of vegan (or Ital) dishes to choose from.

The food is of a very high quality, using fresh ingredients. The cooking techniques are authentic and very patient which is synonymous with good Caribbean home cooking…. meats and stews are marinated for 24 hours and the chicken perfectly smoked. Dishes and drinks are influenced by, not only Jamaican, but Trinidadian, Bajan and many more West Indian cultures.

We couldn’t have enjoyed the evening more, a ten out of ten experience across the board with a genuine feeling that we had been transported to the Caribbean for a couple of hours on a wet and windy Friday night in Oxford. One fear I always have for an independent restaurant is that they will do what they can to win custom, which often means cutting prices to beat the competition. That’s an ultimately flawed approach….the number of restaurant casualties proves that. So that’s why you have to take your hat off to Jamo and his team for acknowledging their true value by charging a rate commensurate with their excellent product….because without doubt the food and experience are worth every penny.

One of THE outstanding culinary experiences in Oxfordshire….make sure you get there, but don’t be early and definitely don’t be late!

Thank you to the team at Spiced Roots for making us so welcome and to Hazel for arranging.

We were privileged to enjoy the following:

Starters:
Curried Crab Meat and Herb Dumplings in Coconut Curry Sauce
Jerk Chicken Spring Rolls

Mains:
Curry Goat Roti – Succulent Boneless Pieces of Goat Meat cooked in our Caribbean Curry and Herbs
Whole Roasted Snapper, stuffed with Okra, Potato and Vegetables

Dessert:
Rum cake ‘n ice cream, vegan banana bread n baked pineapple with avocado ice cream ‘n chocolate cake