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Review

Mango Room

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10-12 Kentish Town Road, Camden Town, London, NW1 8NH. Phone: 020 7482 5065
Meal for two with cocktails- £71.30
Author: Chris Barker


The Mango Room is a brightly-decorated Caribbean restaurant in Camden Town whose cheerful interior matches its cooking. Set conveniently across the road from the tube station in Kentish Town Road, even in the restaurant-crowded area its massive, well lighted windows called customers in like a beacon.
The bustling restaurant’s background of talk from its crowded tables nearly drowned out by the classic reggae music which makes up its constant soundtrack. We were ushered to the table by the smiling manager, who helpfully pointed out the merits of the technicolour pictures of pirates adorning the walls. After having a hellishly rushed experience trying to get to the place on time, it was a shocking change of place.
We started with two glasses of fruit juice (£1.50) and two of the signature cocktails of the house (£6.00) which were favorable and despite containing pieces of pineapple had a harsh edge almost like a vodka cocktail (although I believe the main alcohol they contained was rum). These arrived so quickly it was like they’d been teleported to the table, which was impressive considering how crowded the restaurant was at that point. Service was consistently good throughout the meal despite the staff being run a little ragged by the high number of customers arriving. To begin the meal, we had a not very spicy, pepper-based seafood soup (£7.00) and Tiger Prawns with pineapple salsa (£6.50).
The soup had a nice coconutty flavour, wasn’t too savoury and tasted almost like a very mild Goan fish curry (which it should do, containing every type of fish from mussels to king prawns). The pineapple prawns were an unusual combination and I thought that it didn’t really bring out the flavour of the prawns to the best effect. However, all of our doubts were swept away once we got to the next course.
For our mains, we choose to the char grilled pork loin with jerk sauce and pak choy (£11.00) and the Mango Room seafood casserole with the char grilled roti bread (13.80). We also went with a couple of side dishes with breadfruit (£3.00) and sweet potatoes (£3.00). This was looking like a pretty filling meal…I especially wanted to try the breadfruit, which I’d read about but never eaten before.
The pork was a very nice, classic jerk sauce dish with a simple, sweet flavour, very well cooked into almost perfect tenderness. The seafood casserole was a brilliantly savoury concoction which somehow managed to make all of the flavours of its ingredients run together into a rainbow of taste, and just spicy enough to add that extra interest to the food (in fact, it felt a bit like the completed dish which the seafood soup was the prototype for). Mussels are one of my all-time favourite foods, and the ones in this casserole were done very well and in a way which added great flavour to the rest of the dish.
As an accompaniment to the main meal, we got a chance to try a small portion of Camden’s famous curry goat, which was absolutely deliciously spicy and warm, and so tender it almost melted in the mouth. The breadfruit was pretty good too, a bit like a combination of dry potato and, well, warm bread (good for dipping in the spicy seafood casserole).
For dessert, we had a chocolate cake (£5.50) which was fine for the price and acceptably chocolaty. We finished up with a Jamaica breeze cocktail (£6.00) and a mojito (6.50), which were milder and very well mixed.
After the meal we had a chance to talk to the chef, 34-year-old Roger, who told us that the thing which set Mango Rooms apart from other restaurants was “consistency. I’ve been here 10 years and I know people who’ve been coming here for 10 years.” The veteran chef has been working in Mango Room for the last 10 years and hasn’t changed jobs in that time, meaning that the taste of the meals in the restaurant has stayed very much the same.
The chef recommended to us the curry goat and seafood casserole, which means we made a good choice on the menu at least. Despite some shakiness with their starters, Mango Room are definitely a good choice if you want tasty, cheerful mid-range cuisine in Camden.