Sunshine On A Rainy Day | Sugar Dumplin, The Atrium, Camberley, Surrey, GU15 3QL
Easy like Sunday morning, as Mr Richie sang. Although there was nothing easy about this particular Sunday morning, apart from the prospect of an early lunch at Sugar Dumplin.
Firstly there were a couple of obstacles to hurdle. The clocks had just sprung forward, it may be saving daylight time but it cost me a valuable hour in bed and that always puts me in a mood. Plus the weather was terrible, it was bucketing down and that in turn made the M25 even more horrendous than usual.
What kept us going was knowing that at the end of this hellish journey would be a big bellyful of Caribbean food. Our table was originally booked for 12pm but due to traffic ‘issues’ we did actually arrive at the Sugar Dumplin until just before 1pm. As we dripped our way through the door, looking like a couple of drowned rats, the beaming smiles, warm welcome and reggae music immediately lifted our spirits.
The restaurant is a weird contrast to its location – its fun and colourful interior is a million miles away from the stark and sterile Atrium shopping centre in Camberley. It has a tropical beach hut vibe with wooden paneling emblazoned with street art, including the obligatory illustrations of Bob Marley. Strings of coloured bulbs loop overhead adding to the illusion that your sat on sat on a white sandy beach. Weird considering that if you glance over your shoulder and look through their doors you can see a Vue multiplex cinema.
This was a tricky one for us – the cocktail list looked like one we could have settled down with all night. But as we were driving, Saff settled for a Ting (£2.50), a soft drink of refreshing citrus fruits – very much like an unsweetened Lilt (you know, the one with the totally tropical taste…) I couldn’t resist the Kraken-tini (£6.95) – Kracken Rum with a hint of coconut, strong and fruity (just like me) just one sip and it was as if I was on my summer holiday.
Due to being behind schedule we speedily choose our meal, luckily the menu isn’t too long or complicated. We shared a couple of starters – Whole jerk king prawns (£5.95) marinated in garlic and chilli then cooked on the grill and brushed with honey and served with pickled ginger. Quite fiddly to ‘unwrap’ but worth the effort – and, oh, that smell when they were served up! Sugar Dumplin, stop messing with our senses.
The Sticky BBQ pork Ribs (£5.95) braised and smoked in the jerk pit, glazed with irie and finished on the char grill weren’t what we were expecting. They weren’t sticky, it was more a dry rub style rib with hardly any fat – yet the fall-off-the-bone meat still packed a powerful punch. Little tip, ask for a little selection of their dips, they’re great, especially the mayo with jerk seasoning and the sweet BBQ sauce.
Caribbean cuisine varies from island to island and has a mixture of Carib and Arawak, Indian, Spanish, Chinese, African, French and English influences (or so the menu says). When I think of Caribbean food, I think of Goat curry and rice and peas and that’s exactly what I had (£11.95). A huge portion of slow cooked off the bone curry goat with peppers, potato all cooked in a traditional Dutch pot. Not overly spicy, more a comforting heat. This dish obviously originated in the Caribbean although it’s perfectly suited to a wet and cold British spring.
Saff couldn’t resist the Escovitch fish (£12.95) – lightly fried red snapper with an escovitch (mixed hot pepper) sauce, again served with rice and peas – the classic of basmati rice, spices, kidney beans and black-eyed peas. Saff enjoyed it but was a tad disappointed by the fish to rice ratio.
The Sugar dumplin special (£2.95), fried cornmeal dumplings made with house flour and ripe plantain served with a choice of sauce, more than made up for her fish. She hardly gave me a look in, scoffing down these slightly sweet bready balls of deliciousness.
At this point we had to rush off to visit Saff’s family and to meet the new owner of the William Bray, a gorgeous country bar and restaurant in the idyllic setting of Shere. I know a terrible situation to be in. So unfortunately we didn’t have time to look at a dessert menu, we weren’t offered one so as far as we know they don’t actually do desserts. Who cares when they have a cocktail list as extensive as theirs.
Service at Sugar Dumplin was fab and, as mentioned before, the warm atmosphere and reggae soundtrack transported us off to a paradise island. All this on a quiet, wet Sunday afternoon. Just imagine how totally tropical it gets on a busy Friday or Saturday night when the Bermuda Rum Swizzles are in full flow.
The Atrium, Upper Floor, Park Street,
Camberley, Surrey, GU15 3QL
Telephone: 01276 64965
Opening hours: Sun – Thurs: 11.00am – midnight
Fri and Sat: 11am – 1:00am
Nearest station: Camberley (6 min walk)
We ate as guests of Sugar Dumplin this does not affect our review in any way.
We always write with complete honesty.