Bubbas in Tulse Hill is styled as a fine dining Caribbean restaurant. There was a lot of blue neon shining out of those windows. For the most part, I did like it – the food was well spiced and had flavour so there was obviously some talent in the kitchen in the form of their Michelin-trained chef. But it was all the fripperies that made me cringe; things served in kilner jars are cute to a certain extent, but when everyone round the table (of 5) has one, it becomes a bit of a cheesy gimmick.
Fried prawn and okra balls were served with a pretty orange smear and presented on an awkwardly shaped plate. The sliminess of the okra shone through and it was served with a delicious sweet and sour sauce, once you can dig it out of its jar.
Elsewhere on the table, huge prawns made us all gasp and were meatily delicious, coated in a rum glaze and having a hint of the scotch bonnet fruitiness. Jerk chicken lollipops were decently spiced (top photo) and the jerk ketchup it was served with had some serious kick. We scooped the remnants of the sauce jar with our fingers.
This was served with a potato galette and dumpling. Without much sauce with the deboned oxtail meat, this was a little dry but the potato, meat and earthiness of the beetroot smear worked well together and I finished it without much effort.
Goat curry was served in a ‘rose tuile’, essentially a basket made of thin pastry that was all about presentation rather than flavour. The blue neon light really did a number with that photo; the rest were rescuable with the genius of Lightroom, but there was no saving that one.
While the waiting staff were sweet and helpful, they seemed uncomfortable with their starched whites and formal uniform, and the food somehow seemed that way too. Although flavoursome and ultimately satisfying, the styling was overdone and fussy.