Open Sun–Thu midday–11pm; Fri–Sat midday–2am
The style & crowd:
Jambalaya! I was promised a vibrant, lively and loud evening. What I got was a quiet, empty and a dull environment. That said, I was in good company so we made the most of the night. We arrived on what had been the hottest day in London so we were looking forward to some good food under the stars.
On first impressions the outside of the Jam Tree was promising but sadly quiet and, on closer inspection, uninspiring. If I had walked into this pub as a regular punter off the street there was little to suggest I was entering an exciting or out of the ordinary night at the Jam Tree. The only hint of an attempt to replicate a New Orleans theme were some very sad looking flags casually strewn about the place. The Jam Tree in itself is a cool pub, set in the less glamorous part of the Kings Road and tends to attract what my partner described as ‘Sloaney Chavs.’ Whether this was indicative of the usual crowd I couldn’t say, but nonetheless we were far from enamoured by the clique.
The words ‘oversell and under deliver’ were unfortunately true of Jambalaya at The Jam Tree. With a pop-up concept you have a limited time to impress. The staff, although attentive and pleasant, didn’t explain that there was a pop up going on until we enquired about it. Luckily for Jambalaya, the food was decent enough.
The concept was designed to bring a slice of New Orleans to London, combining the indigenous cuisine of Creole, New Orleans French and haute Creole cuisine, with a bit of live jazz thrown into the mix. Was this achieved? The food was more than palatable but not necessarily memorable and there was no live jazz to drown out the drone of our fellow patrons. I had the artichoke starter (£8) and the signature main dish which was the Jambalaya (£14). The Jambalaya was wholesome, generous and tasty and while I enjoyed the combination of flavours, meats and seafood, I would describe this as ‘good hangover food’. My dining partner had the deep fried soft shell crab (£9) for starter – this was hearty and adequate. For main, he had the blackened creole hanger steak with fries, egg and hollandaise (£19). The steak was average but the fries were dry and cold. He’s a man; he likes to eat, but I couldn’t help but notice that he didn’t finish his starter or main. The words ‘I’ve had better’ were uttered and this comes from a man who has Cuban blood. But then, if I were to eat in a Greek restaurant (I’m half Greek) then the food’s never as good as mamma used to make.
To start we had two glasses of Mercier (£8) champers then a bottle of rioja (£32) which was long and heavy and went down a treat. As we left the pub we decided to at least try the house, so bought a bottle to drink at home (£17). I would advise against the house red. A tempranillo which was metallic, lacking in finesse and coarse – a bit like the crowd.