Right, no messing around, this is a revisit, on our first visit, (in the majority) we were not impressed. After publishing our first review, Tracks and Record reached out to us and explained it was a ‘soft’ launch, although on the day waiting staff told us Tracks and Records was officially open for business, with no mention of soft, light, pre or any other kind of non – official launch. So was it really a soft launch? Anyway, let’s put it down to miscommunication among the Tracks and Record staff and management.
That said, it was only right to give #Usainbolt and his team a second chance following this ‘soft launch’. For clarity and review purposes we have confirmed this visit is definitely after their official launch, which was the night before and we didn’t get an invite!!! No excuses now, read on to find out if our review differs from Heat 1? Read on to find out.
Not to waste time, Speedie bellowed, “all of the wings!” like a Viking that wants more beef! I agreed and slyly stamped my foot under the table. The wings on the first visit were ok, but “shy”, (shy meaning small, portion size could be bigger), this time round same ol’, same ol’, four wings per flavour, meh! It’s about the taste I guess.
Honestly, I can’t complain about the tatse. All three sets of wings were on point, my favourite being the buffalo wings. Reason being that the buffalo sauce was not overbearing like in some establishments, and you could actually taste the chicken. Hot wing sauces are supposed to compliment the chicken, not act like an inanimate vehicle for the sauce. It’s a chicken wing, not a chicken dipper! If there was a larger portion of chicken wing, I would go as far to say they could challenge some of the professional wing outlets out there for our ‘Best Wings in London‘ campaign! Well done, an improvement… of sorts.
The main, I kept it 100% percent Jamaican! Curry Goat and Rice! Pow! And no, not Curried Goat! Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, but NO!
It arrived, and let’s cut to the end like the films… mate! I’m still hungry! Back to the beginning, the curry arrived in a slow cook pot, nice touch! The pot was 4 inches wide, and at best 6 inches deep, the curry goat was filled to 3.5 inches! Yes, I’m being picky but man! The rice for me was served in what can only be described as an egg cup! Ok, I’m exaggerating, but the bowl the rice came in was no bigger than a standard brandy glass! Why so small, why so little food for nearly £12! DAMMIT I’M HUNGRY!
After taking my head out of my hands, I tasted the food. I actually poured the rice into the pot the Curry Goat arrived in and that dish still wasn’t full!! Anyway, the taste! Honestly, again i can’t complain, the meat was tender, well seasoned, it tasted authentic (not as good as mums) but it was of a high standard, the rice was nothing to write home about, being honest it was probably from a rice cooker, but most restaurants do the same. (Next time you’re out ask the waitress and watch her face). A major plus for me in regard to the curry was no bones, for me that’s the sign of premium, but in that, the bones probably make up the portion size in other establishments, who knows.
I also ordered a side of plaintin (I’m writing it how you pronounce it) and that was generous, only issue was it was not fresh. Let me break something down. We as the consumer are king! If food arrives and it’s not fresh or warm… send it back! Michelin star restaurants are that, in part, due to food taste but also due to the freshness. Do not pay money for things that are sub par! (Message)
SPEEDIE: In comparison to other buffalo wings, these were probably the best I’ve ever had!
Starters… In comparison to other buffalo wings, these were probably the best I’ve ever had! They still had that tangy taste, but they were no where near as sharp as others I’ve had. They also had a jerk flavour which definitely made you realise you’re in a Caribbean restaurant. I was very impressed. Now I have to be honest here, the Appleton wings and the Red Stripe wings tasted exactly the same to me. I couldn’t tell the difference. They had a lot of sauce on them so make sure you have tissues close by but overall they were also good. I weren’t wowed by them but if I went again i think I would go solely for the buffalo. I must warn you, the red stripe and Appleton wings are seriously spicy. After I finished I sat there for a good 5 mins questioning the meaning of life. The only disappointment about the wings was the portion size. You only get 4 and for £6.95 that’s a bit steep in my view.
I also managed to get one of Slysta’s Saltfish Fritters and OMG! These were on point! I’m talking Mumsie’s levels. Light, fluffy and full of flavour. Again a bit stingy with the portion but I still recommend giving these a try. The issue I’ll have next time is to decide whether I get the fritters or the wings.
For mains, I wanted to order something different to what everyone else chose so I went for the chicken burger. Everyone looked at me funny like I had wing sauce on my face. “Man come to a Caribbean restaurant and order burger” shouted Rain. I didn’t care, I saw it, I wanted it, I had it. Story done.
It comes with fries and a reasonable amount of coleslaw. My first bite was a good one. The chicken and jerk sauce was delicious. I mean mouthwatering, finger licking, unbelievably good. That’s not even the best part, the brioche bun was out of this world. This burger was emotional. Could even be a contender for best burger in London. It was that good. I definitely recommend getting this burger if you visit Tracks & Records.
MR WHYTE: I was happy with the Saltfish Fritters last time so I jumped on Speedie’s wave with the bulk wings order.
All three wings were fresh, with succulent chicken easily coming off the bone, but still small. Of the three, the Appleton were my fave. I love sweet sauces and the Appleton wings come with a rich sweet sauce, which was an excellent coating to a fantasticly cooked wing. Special mention for the Buffalo Wing, I was glad it wasn’t bathed in that sometimes overbearing tangy version of buffalo sauce you find in other restaurants. Instead, this wing only had a heavy hint of buffalo flavour with a light coating of sauce, this type of cooking is an excellent example of a chef making the menu his/her own.
To keep the comparisons between the first and second visit to Tracks & Records, one again I ordered the Jerk Chicken Platter. To recap, on the first visit my chicken was cold, missing coleslaw, had a hovis role instead of harddough bread and the festival was in the shape of a breadstick but was the best part of the meal taste wise! So, let’s tackle each issue one by one.
The Chicken arrived very warm, not hot, but acceptable. I could see coleslaw in a pot. There wasn’t any hovis rolls this time, instead on the plate were 2 pieces of harddough bread, cut thinly instead of those door stopper cuts that complete your daily carb count. The breadstick festival has been reshaped into a more traditional looking shape and again it was the best thing on the plate. Warm and light, I haven’t tasted a festival of this high standard in the UK!
The jerk chicken still isn’t cooked authentically enough for the half Jamaican in me, however, I understand it is a restaurant chain in Liverpool Street aimed at the mainstream foodies and tourists and not #Dalton from #xfactor.
I put in a motion for MDVF to go on a holiday to Jamaica, typo, a ‘business trip’ to Jamaica to road test how the jerk chicken is cooked at Tracks & Records in Kingston… put it on the expenses!
TONGO: A whole different experience this time round… (maybe because I wasn’t gassed this time) …everything was much more serene! Several empty tables, less staff, less customers, I swear, even the music was a lower volume! But that’s not why I’m here let’s get to the food.
For starters, subject to peer pressure (thanks a lot guys) I got the Jerk Grilled Prawns… disappointment! Too much pepper and too spicy for me! In fact, way spicier than they need to be for what this dish is. The pepper was overbearing, diverting you away from experiencing the real taste. Luckily they had the ‘mango pico de gallo’ (mango salsa to you and me lol) to tame the heat a little but it was still too much. The dish was presented well and the prawns themselves were cooked well and succulent once you got through the pepper. I should’ve known from the Jerk Chicken Spring Rolls last time which, in my opinion, were mostly pepper. Big mistake!
For mains, I got the Fried Fish with side of sweet potato fries again (have to check consistency n ting) but this time ordered the whole fish rather than the fillets. The sweet potato fries were a lot better, much more a vibrant orange than a brown orange, seeming way fresher than before. Great improvement!
The festival that came with the dish this time was a mini twist and was light, fluffy and golden… now that’s how you do a festival! The plantain was unchanged… still nice and soft with not too much oil, just a shame there wasn’t more if it.
The fish, again, was delicious! The fish itself was large and fleshy with hardly any bones aside from the main skeleton in the middle, which was a bonus. For me, as nice as it was, it still was not as nice as the fillets as it lacked that pan fried crisp skin I so enjoyed from the fillets. It was still pan fried but due to the size and shape of a whole fish it just physically couldn’t be the same, however, still very nice. Now I’m spoilt for choice when I come back but I definitely will be ordering the fried fish again! The accompanying escovietch pickle, again, was a delight! Simply sublime! I might just have to ask the chef, @cheflb for the recipe!
SLYSTA: As difficult as it was trying to keep an open mind about this spot after the first visit I managed to do it. Call it a fresh start.
For starters I got the Saltfish Fritters and a portion of festivals. The fritters are undoubtably the best I have ever had. The right SHAPE! ?. The right texture, the right amount of seasoning and flavour. The right amount of salt fish. And the dipping sauce #jheeze ?, it was on point! Well done Tracks & Records! The festivals were also good, fresh and fluffy, they melted in my mouth. Top 3 easily!
For the mains, I got the steam fish (Sea Bream fillets) with okra, fried bammy & crackers.
This was dish ok, nothing to get excited about. The fish lacked taste. There wasn’t enough seasoning. Even salt would have made it just that bit better. The curry-like sauce it came with was average, again nothing to get excited about. It almost tasted like #tracksandrecords was not using their term authentic Jamaican food efficiently.
I also got a side of sweet potato fries. They were cooked well, with a pinch of salt. Which had more on it than the fish! #noshade.
SERVICE: The service was good. We know we could have thought of a better word or sentence to explain but it was just that… “good”. The waitress who served us was bright, plucky, knew the menu, even recommended things and had a sly dig at Whyte for being scared of the White Rum cocktails. The food arrived swiftly and this time nothing was cold.
The one complaint would be that nearer the end of the meal numerous waiting staff were attending to the table, one collecting plates, one collecting glasses, one bringing us the bill and another taking payment for the meal… Confusing! We just wanted to give the original waitress a tip, we never got her name but hold on to her!
OVERALL: The food in some instances was better, the kitchen is settling down, there is still room for improvement with the mains, notably the jerk chicken and curry goat.
If the rest of the food can be of the same standard as the festival and chicken wings, with its location, decor and atmosphere, Tracks and Records can take top spot in the mainstream Caribbean dining scene.
We tried to order dessert but they had run out of all the various options that we individually wanted. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing for a Thursday evening but it meant they lost out on 5 extra orders as we were all on it. Nevermind… maybe next time, eh?
For now, Tracks and Records is showing potential and heading in the right direction. The chef had obviously taken on various feedback during their ‘soft launch’. We imagine it can’t be easy trying to cater for an authentic Caribbean palette, whilst trying to attract the average after work City worker. We hope it keeps improving and doesn’t go how other other mainstream Caribbean restaurants have and lose its authenticity trying get that mainstream pound. We will likely return in a few months to track Tracks and Record’s trajectory.
SCORE: 4 out of 6 mandems.