A new Jamaican-inspired bar, cafe and creative space is to open underneath the arches of Deptford rail station in south London. Buster Mantis has been named after the Caribbean island's first prime minister, Sir Alexander Bustamante, who was instrumental in establishing the nation's independence in 1962. The team behind the new opening are determined to create a fresh looking space that eschews any Jamaican bar cliches, with founder Gordon McGowan saying, "we’re not really going for the whole ‘island paradise’ look, to be honest; my hometown Mandeville is nowhere near the beach, and it rains a lot. We’d like to think that our food just speaks loudly enough for itself”.
They've been working on the menu for a long time, which will include staples like jerked meats, and "slightly more obscure offerings" which may be unfamiliar to Londoners. They're keeping things simple at first until they find their rhythm, but over time we can expect roast breadfruit, escovitch snapper and bammy (cassava flat bread), jackfruit, callaloo, Middle Quarters style pepper shrimp and rasta pasta. There will also be a selection of local and international beers, coffee, a carefully selected wine list, cocktails and their own recipe, "almost dangerously strong house rum punch".
The creative space will be under one of the two arches occupied by Buster Mantis, and it will be available for art exhibitions, film screenings, workshops, pop ups or any other creative projects, with the aim of supporting local creative talent.
At Londonist we're excited by the prospect of some new Jamaican food, since the current selection isn't great, and is polarised between small takeaway places and street food stalls and gimmicky, cliched restaurants. It will be interesting to see what Gordon and his team can do with a more modern approach. Gordon said, "primarily, we just want to open a good place: we believe that this is a truly modern, intelligent Jamaican-influenced bar in which an interest in our food or culture is a bonus, as opposed to a necessity. We think there’s something here that will appeal to everyone”.