We don’t seem to see as many traditional landlords around these days – you know, the men and women who rule their pubs with an iron fist. Landlords have a duty to be characters, to pull pints from their soapboxes. The Jamaica Inn at the Rose Hill Tavern, off London Road, has a proper landlord in Stacey, the man who puts the Jamaica in the Jamaica Inn. As we put our order in everything is too much trouble, but in a very amusing way. “It’s like Fawlty Towers in here,” laughs one of the regulars at the bar. The banter flows as Stacey tackles the subjects of the day – Thatcher’s death, the racial progress of Star Trek, and music. “Back in the 70s we had The Clash and 2-Tone. Thatcher took all that and left us with the Style Council,” he says with mock fury.
The problem with going out for Jamaican food is that as enthusiastic as one person is, another doesn’t really fancy it. Jamaica Inn solves the problem by serving both English classics and Jamaican staples. Tempted as we are by the goat burger, we simply have to try the jerk chicken (£7.50). With huge piece of chicken, a decent portion of rice and peas and a coleslaw side dish it’s good value for money, and the chicken is so tender it does that falling off the bone thing brilliantly. Gently spiced, it tickles the palette rather than blasts it. On the Brit side, the bangers and mash (£7.50) comes in a massive homemade Yorkshire, with a satisfying portion of garlic mash and three very spicy organic lamb sausages. If that isn’t tempting enough there are also the famous Reggae Roasts on Sundays.
Even if the food wasn’t good we’d still recommend the Jamaica Inn. Just being there is fun. But the option to get proper jerk chicken and goat curry alongside good English pub grub means that everyone’s happy. Good food, good prices, good banter.
WERE WE SUSSED?
No. Stacey recognised one of us but couldn’t work out where from. We didn’t help him remember – we really didn’t want to get caught reviewing.
Jamaica Inn at The Rose Hill Tavern, Rose Hill Terrace
Tues-Sat 4pm-9pm, Sun for Reggae Roasts, 1pm til done