TONIO’S KITCHEN – DULWICH
Saturday morning, 9.30 am and I am up travelling to get food, early I know but when
food is involved best know that I will be there no matter what time. Upon arrival,
I was greeted by a warm, friendly woman who showed me around. The venue for the
event was ace. Cosy, small and bright with a nice little garden out back. When I
was introduced to Chef Tonio he was very polite and I couldn’t wait to try his cooking.
The first dish served was Jamaican stewed kidney beans, sweet potato and carrot
accompanied by tortilla chips and salad. Amazing quality, amazing texture and amazing
flavour. The spices were well put together and I enjoyed this meal very much to say the least.
I also admired Chef Tonio’s boldness to think outside of the box and put his own spin
on a traditional Caribbean dish. The tortilla chips, which are a part of Mexican cuisine,
were already flavourful so this added an unusual spicy crunch to the meal making
it more enticing. The mixing of the two cultures delivered successfully and I
was highly impressed.
Next up, was a classic jerk chicken with rice and peas, salad and coleslaw which contained
apple. Now this was real jerk. The proper stuff. Smoked over pimento wood and everything,
cooked in an oil drum and you could most definitely taste it. The chicken wasn’t too
moist or too dry it was perfectly done with a rich flavour that could be tasted with every
bite, right down to di bone! The rice was soft and fluffy, so were the peas.
The more I eat coleslaw the more my distaste for it declines and this one reduced
even more. However the apple flavour could have been stronger. I couldn’t
taste it as much as I would have liked to. Also the presentation could have been neater.
Furthermore, a triple cheese mac that came with bread crumbs followed. Mild cheddar,
mature cheddar and mozzarella cheese were used and these cheeses are quite light
so I didn’t find this dish too heavy or to rich. It could have been a tiny bit more moist,
but nevertheless it was still delightful and had the right balance of cheese and milk
in the sauce. Moreover, the bread crumbs were sprinkled over the mac n cheese,
this added a subtle crispiness. The second side was cherry wood infused smoked
jerk drumsticks with and orange BBQ glaze. Yes guys you read it right cherry wood,
as in wood from a cherry tree, different I know. This was one of the favourite things
that I had tried. A hint of sweetness mix with savoury and I did demolish these drumsticks,
not a piece of chicken meat in sight by the time that I had finished. Similarly, to the jerk it had
flavour throughout. Additionally, the bulgar and black eye peas with a mix of vegetables
and beans wasn’t really to my taste but I still appreciated it and would suggest it for those
who are vegan/vegetarian.
To drink, I had a carrot punch which had also been used to make the ice cubes instead of
water. This eliminated the possibility of the drink becoming to watery. What’s more,
the punch contained nutmeg which gave it a pleasant and nutty kick. The consistency was
great also: not too thick not too thin.
The first out of two desserts was a carrot and sweet potato cake. It was luscious and delicate.
I absolutely love sweet potato but never thought of it being in a cake! Carrot cake
can be quite sugary but the addition of sweet potato stabilised this. It was also embellished
with orange flavoured pastry cream which added a nice, velvety moisture to the dish.
The second dessert and final thing that I had to eat was the sweet potato pie which tasted incredible.
The pie filling was spiced with cinnamon, mixed spices and vanilla. Cinnamon and
vanilla does wonders together so you can probably imagine how grand this tasted. It had caramelised
essence and the right ratio of filling to pastry.
Stewed Kidney beans
Cherry wood drumsticks
Sweet potato pie
- Food presentation
- Food quality
- Service & Organisation
All in all, I had a great time at Tonio’s Kitchen. The food was well thought out, well prepared and well seasoned. Staff were friendly and the hospitality was wonderful. I even got speaking with other diners, there were good vibes all around. I would most definitely recommended for authentic gourmet Caribbean food with an exciting twist.