I don’t like the cooler weather – the need for extra layers and woolly accessories; the inability to wear my Havvies and pretty dresses; the cravings for hearty, fat/carb-loaded food.
|Tropical fish downstairs in the tiki lounge at Rambutan, Oxford Street, Paddington|
|Dr Phil’s Famous Flaming Rum Punch|
Appleton VX rum features in the base drink, but the drama is all in the upturned lime half, which is filled with raw sugar and floated in the tiki glass. A splash of booze and a lick of fire later, the drink is flamin’ on fire – the sugar melting to a caramel that sweetens the punch.
When the blue flame sadly is no more, the remaining drink is a strong reminder that cocktails most certainly can be imbibed in the middle of winter – flames, tropical fish or not.
|Coconut and kaffir lime daiquiri carnival|
It’s a sweet cocktail, if not a little too much for my tastes, with an overpowering, almost oily flavour of coconut; even over and above that of the usually strong taste of Sagatiba Pure Cachaça.
After a little defrosting in the tiki lounge, we head upstairs to the dining room, precariously balancing our cocktails all the while up. We’re seated at a small table for two aside the large communal table; the space significantly narrower and squishier than I remember from previous visits (although perhaps that’s just the snowman-shaped/dressed me talking).
|Miang (betel leaf) with tea smoked trout and grilled chilli eggplant relish|
Each mouthful is jam-packed a flavour bomb of ingredients – the soft pieces of smoked trout are gorgeous while the eggplant is a bit lost beneath the good hint of chilli and overall sweetness.
|Mussels with lemongrass, Thai basil and chilli|
The chilli kick was perfect while some rice would have been good to eat with the sweet, chilli-spiked juices left at the bottom of the bowl. Another round of mussels would also have gone down well.
But it was time for mains, and ambitious ordering of two dishes plus fried rice and a steamed rice portion meant the small table was not going to handle it. Bring out the metal stand that elevated one of the mains above the bowl of rice for some strategic dish juggling.
|Pla laht prik - hot, sweet and sour crispy whole barramundi with |
bamboo shoot and kaffir lime leaf
Lightly battered and fried, the fish was doused in the sauce that was more sweet than hot or sour. The crunchily fried kaffir lime leaves were pretty and added a subtle flavour, and the whole fish became a skeleton not too long into the mains.
|Dry red curry, roasted pork belly with snake beans, grachi and holy basil|
|Fried rice with gai lan, cherry tomato and chilli jam|
We didn’t linger for desserts although service was efficient and very friendly all night. With the seriously squishy seating and narrow spaces between the tables, the feel inside Rambutan is unsurprisingly intimate although it can also get pretty noisy. They almost look like they have more room in the open kitchen.
Grabbing our takeaway containers, it’s a cold entry back to reality – where, sadly, tropical fish and tiki cocktails don’t float about. Where are you, spring?