Just a few-moments walk from Notting Hill Gate underground station in west London, Cottons has quickly become the new home of authentic-Caribbean flavour in the capital.
Opening in April, the location is the third from the group, following those in Camden and Shoreditch.
Arriving on a busy Sunday night, the floor-to-ceiling glass frontage reveals a colourful interior, packed full of contagious Caribbean spirit.
Tonight the restaurant is filled with guests from the Notting Hill Caribbean community, as well a handful of tourists from further afield.
On the ground floor, seating is arranged around a central bar adorned with multi-coloured bamboo, while what is apparently the largest collection of rums in the UK waits behind the bartender.
Quickly seated, we order cocktails to begin.
Both the Tea Lady, with black tea infused dark rum, dry curacao, cognac and muddled fresh strawberries, and My Fair Lady, featuring fruit infused Wray & Nephew rum, summer fruits and crushed guava topped with sparkling wine, are fresh, zesty and certainly not shy on the alcohol.
With over 300 varieties of rum available it is no surprise the property has become a favourite with connoisseurs.
Cottons claims the largest rum collection in London
Opposite the bar, a hand painted floor-to-ceiling mural depicting a vibrant, tropical jungle scene spans the entire length of the wall. Suspended brass lighting with filament bulbs hang from the ceiling, creating a traditional tikki shack feel.
The glass house main restaurant is positioned towards the rear of the space. We are seated here, under a large skylight allowing natural light to shine directly into the open plan room, complementing an antique chandelier.
The authentic décor is completed with oak wood flooring, beamed ceilings and a scattering of bonsai plants.
The menu is overseen by Jamaican born head chef Nikki McLeod and includes ingredient-driven dishes, featuring sustainably sourced and foraged components where possible.
Fresh, organic flowers such as chive and coriander flowers are the order of the day, enhancing the food both aesthetically and taste-wise.
Scallop ceviche at Cottons Caribbean Restaurant
For starters we order scallop ceviche and ‘paw paw, cho cho’ accompanied by radish, toasted pumpkin seeds and quinoa.
Served with green mango, scotch bonnet and tigers milk, the ceviche is light, energetic and a delight on the tongue.
However, the diminutive ‘paw paw, cho cho’ leaves a little to be desired, featuring just one delicate slice of radish.
The mains are the stars of the evening, with both the Guyanese 48 hour slow cooked Beef pepper pot and pan roasted guava glazed duck breast accurately described as exquisite.
Served with fondant potatoes, the slow cooked Beef pepper pot is just the right amount of spicy; juicy, succulent and surprisingly filling, it is everything one would hope.
At the same time, the guava glazed Duck breast comes with spring vegetable terrine, yam croquettes, and ginger carrot puree.
It is sumptuous, and delightfully meaty, with melt in the mouth textures. A real treat.
For dessert, the lemongrass flan with mix berries offers a light, sweet way to finish, while the slightly more adventurous yogurt parfait, with sorrel jelly and green tea crepe, is intricate, charming and gratifying.
The pan roasted duck is a real treat
With a full restaurant the service is still quick, polite and efficient, while the atmosphere is positively upbeat.
But it is the food that is the real star here.
A destination restaurant with delicious Caribbean cuisine worthy of the islands which inspired it.
The original Cottons opened in Camden over 30 years’ ago and is still thriving today, while the Street Food extraordinaire Boxpark Cottons in Shoreditch launched over three years ago.
Cottons Notting Hill – which opened in April - will be the couture sister to the brand offering a more refined experience, but still keeping the colourful vibe and authentic Caribbean flavours for which Cottons is renowned.
For more information head over to the official website.