Review: Dub Jam, Bedford Street
The hearts of purists likely sank at the thought of The Adventure Bar taking on Jamaican food and drink. While the Covent Garden-Dulwich-Clapham chain knows how to put on a party, it isn’t noted for its subtlety. Would this be a travesty, complete with cheesy cultural references and neutered food?
Thankfully, Dub Jam is nothing of the sort – apart from a few silly names on the menu, which we’ll put down to over-enthusiasm. It’s cool, friendly, and most importantly it’s putting out some fantastic grub.
The space itself, right next to the Adventure Bar’s Bedford Street entrance, is tiny – move it a few postcodes to the east and it’d be deemed a ‘pop-up’. But it makes a good fist of balancing Jamaican motifs with London chic. Behind its cluster of tables is a huge sheet of graffiti-splattered corrugated metal, while lighting comes from customised tin cans and buoys.
Up at the counter, the chalkboard menu is crowned by a fat stack of speakers, and the excellent rum punch – sweet and powerful, with a warming kick of cinnamon – is dispensed from a tube that runs through it. “It’s infused with reggae,” staff explained. We’re not sure about the science behind that, but it’s a cute touch. As for beer, don’t expect any concessions to new-school styles: it’s Carib and Red Stripe all the way, and they actually pair well with the rich, spicy flavours Dub Jam serves up.
The short menu is soul-food-meets-street-food. A soft, sticky slow-cooked pork skewer was the best of the bunch; the chicken skewer was punchy but a little drier, and improved when dunked in the fierce scotch bonnet salsa. Veggies can opt for a pepper and halloumi version, and there’s also a small (and not particularly Jamaican) range of burgers.
As for sides, we were wowed by a tub of perfect sweet potato chips, which are fiendishly hard to get right. These are fluffy on the inside, seriously crunchy on the outside and dredged in a moreish seasoning – a killer dish that’ll keep us coming back for more. Rice and peas were a great foil to the juicy, fatty pork, soaking up the flavours and cutting through the grease, and coconut salsa delivered a welcome bit of crunch and coolness. Other choices include skin-on potato chips, corn on the cob and a Jamaican cheese patty.
All in all, Dub Jam is a fantastic addition to our neighbourhood. It’s worth going early if you want a seat – it doesn’t take much to fill the place up, and Covent Garden’s after-work crowd have taken to it rather well. We can’t blame them.