What do you first think of when you hear “Caribbean food“? I’m going to presume jerk chicken from Jamaica, right? As someone with three out of four grandparents from Trinidad – another island in the Caribbean – this breaks my heart a little. However, that’s why I absolutely love Limin Southbank; they’re bringing lesser known Caribbean cuisines to London’s table.
Located moments from the Thames on, you guessed it, the Southbank, Limin Southbank boasts beach club vibes, with both indoor, outdoor (a proper beach bar with sand!), and semi indoor-outdoor seating. Named after the Trini expression ‘to lime’, which means chill out with a group over food and drink, this spot is an oasis amidst London’s concete jungle.
1. The flavoursome food
As previously mentioned, Limin Southbank champions food from the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago, though you’ll recognise a few dishes on the menu from other islands (like the aforementioned jerk chicken, a Jamaican speciality). As many Caribbean families would note, different hands make different dishes; everyone makes these traditional dishes in their own way. At Limin’, they opt for a more saucy approach, something I really enjoyed, especially as the sauces packed a lot of flavour.
On my visit, I had a selection of (not so) small plates, grilled dishes, and sides. My absolute favourite was the doubles – it’s a flatbread-style dish, topped with curried chickpeas, tamarind sauce, and cucumber, and argubly Trinidad’s national street food. The bara (flatbread) was super soft, and the topping was spicy yet slightly sweet and cooling from the tamarind sauce and cucumber. My only gripe was that my partner insinuated that the doubles at Limin were better than the ones I make at home…
Another dish I particularly enjoyed was the pork ribs; the meat was so tender, it slid off the bone, and it is the perfect dish for those who aren’t too keen on spice. While it was far milder than the other dishes, it still packed a lot of flavour. On the opposite end of the scale, the jerk chicken at Limin Southbank is super fiery, though just as succulent as the pork – I highly recommend a portion of coleslaw or rice and peas to cool it down.
Other highlights on the menu are the pholorie – it’s soft and moreish, and only packs a slight heat, thanks to the tamarind – and the desserts. My goodness, that rum cake and ice cream needs to come with a warning: it is dangerously good. When speaking to Limin Southbank’s owner, Sham Mahabir, he advised us that the restaurant has a different summer and winter menu. Come the cold weather, more Trini staples, like roti, curry goat, and stew chicken, grace the menu.
2. The friendly staff
Speaking of the owner, and the staff in general, the service here is phenomenal. Moments after we sat down, we were speaking with staff like old friends, and generally having a laugh – something I noticed was happening throughout the restaurant. Sham is not an illusive figurehead, but rather front of house, checking in on tables, and building a rapport with his customers. Overall, it makes for a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
3. Dangerously good drinks
We couldn’t come to a Caribbean beach bar and restaurant without having a rum punch now, could we? The rum punch here is made using a rum the owner has created. It is rather fruity, but still packs a punch. My favourite drink, however, was the Shamgria – a Caribbean twist on a sangria. It gave off iced mulled wine vibes, or for those familiar, it was kind of like a sorrel (a Caribbean drink). It was refreshing, and went down easily… maybe a little too easily.
Other drink highlights included the daiquiri, which was hella strong, yet served in a dainty glass, and the berry mojito, which was rather zingy.
4. A multi-purpose venue
As previously mentioned, Limin Southbank is quite a multi-purpose venue, with indoor seating, outdoor seating, and an area that kind of falls in between. The indoor area is completely covered, adorned with wood, and home to the bar. It then leads into the area in which I chose to sit: technically indoors, but with a shutter-style roof that was open, letting in the natural breeze and sunlight. Thanks to the floor-to-ceiling glass windows, I felt as though I was sitting outside. The outdoor area boasts palm trees and sand, so you truly feel as though your in a slice of Caribbean paradise (though the water moments away in the Thames isn’t very tropical blue…)
Limin Southbank is actually the second spot the brand has occupied; though it is the first permanent one. Prior to Covid, Limin was a simple pop up in Spitalfields. Initially, it was due to stay for 10 weeks in that location, but ended up staying for 10 months. Limin Southbank opened just after the slew of Covid lockdowns a couple of years ago.
During my visit, I saw a lot of group catch ups happening around me – people were literally ‘liming’ with their pals. There was also a fun-looking corporate event going on too; the venue is great for an array of group types.
5. The overall vibes at Limin Southbank are fab
The vibes at Limin Southbank are perfect for both after work socialising, or even a wild Saturday brunch (which they have recently begun offering). There is a live DJ, tucked away behind foliage, who on our visit was playing Latin house music, though we were advised that the likes of Soca – an upbeat Caribbean style – also often acts as a soundtrack to guests’ meals.
I also loved that there seemed to be a very inclusive environment; there were people young and old having a good time, from a range of backgrounds. As I left, I noticed a woman (who I’d previously found out was 91) bussing a wine having a dance as she ate and drank with her daughter.
Overall, I felt a sense of familiarity, and I was so happy to see the food of my heritage shared in London, the place I was born and bred. The Caribbean is filled with diverse islands, with cuisines just as different, and Limin Southbank truly represents that.