PANDABERRY – FINCHLEY
Average price pp: £16
Pandaberry has been in the heart of Finchley, North London for 6 years. A massive sign stating
“Caribbean restaurant” pointing in it’s direction ensures you know where to go, I mean it’s hard to miss.
The inside décor had a brown wooden structure which was nicely contrasted by
brightly multi-coloured chairs and cushions that captured the vividness
of Jamaican culture.
Pandora or Mrs. P: the owner of this establishment, makes sure that all customers feel welcome
and have a pleasurable experience. As a bold and confident cook, she states that
“every plate available at Pandaberry’s is our signature dish!” In other words it all taste good!
Furthermore, what stood out to me was the diversity of customers.
Possibly the most that I have seen in any form of Caribbean restaurant. Some were regulars too.
Sometimes Caribbean cooks compromise the flavours of their food to suit those
outside of their culture, which tends to makes it inauthentic and tasteless. Because of this I
was more intrigued to see what the food was like.
A milky, sweet and spiced beverage of Guinness punch ticked all the right boxes for me.
I also loved how it was served: in a thick mug-like glass with a silver lid that you put the straw
through. This reminded me of the restaurants that I have been to whilst dining in New York.
The side of plantain was delicious and thick but could have been a bit sweeter and moist.
Furthermore, the fish cakes were made into balls rather than a flat shape, to prevent them from
soaking up too much oil. The aim is not only for the food to taste exquisite, but for it to also
be healthy. I loved the peppery aftertaste however, feel that they could have been
made with more saltfish.
Oxtail, a dish that is one of my personal favourites, came tender and meaty. It was very
succulent and enjoyable, despite a thin gravy. To accompany this was a delectable spiced
rice which was similar to popular West African dish, jellof rice only milder.
The BBQ chicken was a bit sweet for my palate but, I did enjoy the rice and peas and the white
rice. Both were pleasant and fluffy.
A fleshy escovitch fish, made with a high quality Snapper, had an amazing fried texture whereby
the savoury flavour was off set by a subtle vinegary taste. The fish was also firm,
making it satisfying to bite!
Furthermore, the ackee and saltfish exceeded my expectations. The best I’ve had in a restaurant
because not too much salt had been removed so it still had a wonderful flavour. I also prefer
my ackee to be very soft which it was.
The jerk chicken was marvellous and this is coming from someone who is not it’s biggest fan.
The smokiness from the jerk pan was locked in so every inch of it was delish. The supple
texture also made it evident that it had been cooked fresh.
Furthermore, the flavour in the pineapple punch could have been stronger but on a whole it was
a lovely drink and had a great consistency.
All dishes came served with salad where the cherry tomatoes were unbelievably tasty!
- Food presentation
- Food quality
- Service & Organisation
After dining at Pandaberry and getting to know the owner, I realised that it was more than just a business. Building customer relationships and ensuring that they have a delightful experience is paramount. The fact that people from all backgrounds enjoy the food and keep going back speaks for the itself! Not to mention the impeccable food presentation which makes the experience more worthwhile. I would strongly recommend and we will going back myself!
Ackee and saltfish