New(ish) Restaurant Review: Mustik

By Ruth Last edited 96 months ago
New(ish) Restaurant Review: Mustik

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Jerk chicken with a bowl of rice and peas behind
Shoreditch may be synonymous with a wide selection of food stuffs - from the Vietnamese of Kingland Road to the curries and bagels of Brick Lane, and a variety of Turkish eateries if you venture north of SoDa or NoSh or whatever the hell it's called these days - but unless you're lucky enough to work around Finsbury Square, you may not be aware that Trinidadian chef Hasan DeFour has brought what he calls "a tropical oasis at the heart of the concrete jungle" to Shoreditch's westernmost flanks.

Mustik's menu* is derived from a lifetime's cooking Caribbean food, which has been built upon following his travels with Gary Rhodes, and the broad range on offer reflects the many cultures which have influenced the development of the Caribbean islands. One surprising addition to the uninitiated was Hasan's Macaroni pie, which might look like a throwback to school dinners, but we were assured that it's a staple of the cuisine. This one is cooked to Hasan's family recipe to stand up of it's own accord, with a heft to it that renders pudding obsolete.

Stand out dishes were the signature Yah Man shrimp, which provided a tantalising contrast between the sweet juicy flesh, the sour tang of citrus and a good kick of scotch bonnet. Salt fish fritters were light and beautifully battered, counterpointed by a deliciously moorish tamarind sauce. (Please note - any spelling mistakes in the remainder of the review should be attributed to saliva over this keyboard from the mere memory of these...) A succulently saucy Jerk chicken - as seen above - was tangiably aromatic rather than pure heat, but still brought a little Caribbean warmth to a damp squib of an August evening, whilst the fried Plantain's crisp, light character nearly converted a bananaphobe. Nearly. Alongside these, the pickled vegetable and crispy fried batter of the Red Snapper escoveitch, and a richly spiced West Indian Curried Mutton opened our eyes beyond the more cliched aspects of Caribbean cuisine.

Cocktails such as the house special Mustik Mojito might have seemed a little on the sweet side on their own, but as they follow through the main menu's approach to authentic flavours and spices, they form the perfect balance with the spice of the food. Catch one of the ubiquitous scotch bonnets unexpectedly and you might need to order a couple more...

The ghost of the venue's previous incarnation as The Worship still lingers, with loud club style music and TVs intruding upon what would otherwise be a more relaxing dining experience, but Hasan's determined to chase that out with a little reggae, some imported beers and his chef's special "hot hot hot" sauce over the next couple of months. We'd advise you to get down there as soon as possible, since when it does you won't be able to move for Londonistas! In the meantime, the Sunday buffet seems like the ideal antidote to the debauchery of Saturday night, with music to soothe your hangover, and a good kick of spicy food to ensure they keep you dancing.

Mustik is on the corner of City Road and Worship Street, by Finsbury Square.

* Don't let the website turn your stomach..!

Last Updated 01 September 2010