Despite the controversial building developments at Elephant and Castle, a beloved Guyanese restaurant has brought together a community over the past 18 years with its delicious food and calming atmosphere.
Guyanese chef Faye Gomes is the talented cook behind the hugely popular Kaieteur Kitchen Original, which has been dubbed the place for “the best Caribbean food in town”.
Kaieteur Kitchen is so good that city workers have been known to escape their stuffy offices for a well-deserved lunch break, followed by a quick nap inside the restaurant after overeating.
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Faye explains, “I have someone who comes in all the time from lunchtime, they come from realtors. When they come in and finish eating, they put their head against the wall and actually sleep. just come in and relax.
“What makes this place so different is the fact that people come in and sleep, people come in and don’t want to go back to work.”
Ruby, our My London reporter, also didn’t want to go back to work when she visited the Castle Square restaurant on Elephant Road on a Friday. Within five minutes, she fell in love with the place and Faye’s welcoming demeanor.
All guests, whether on-site or take-out, receive a free drink of their choice, but Faye’s personal recommendation of Spiced Sorrel certainly didn’t disappoint.
Faye has been feeding the mouths of Londoners since 2003, although the original Kaieteur Kitchen site next to the recently demolished Elephant and Castle Mall means that Faye has seen a lot of change in the area.
Faye is one of several South London traders who moved into the premises in Castle Square last September. Loyal customers as well as new ones have followed Faye to her new location, which now allows customers to eat inside.
She said: “People from my old place have never stopped coming, they feel at home here and that’s the beauty of my kitchen.
“Everyone has their own style and their own way of doing things, but I love the people who come here and feel the Guyanese atmosphere.”
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To understand Guyanese cuisine is to understand all the wonderful cultures that make up the country. Guyana has a mix of Blacks, East Indians, Portuguese, Chinese, Indians, and Native Americans, which is evident in its food.
For example, Pepperpot is Guyana’s national dish and celebrates the nation’s first people, while curry and roti reflect East Indian influence, and garlic pork is a traditional dish served by the Portuguese.
Faye’s cuisine is a blend of her proud Guyanese heritage as well as her own independent creations, including her unique way of cooking spinach rice, a popular Guyanese dish.
As well as serving the locals, people come from all over London to sample Faye’s food, it is common for fellow Guyanese to respond with sheer glee when they find out that his black pudding is served with sour, a Authentic mango and tamarind sauce which is rare to find in the UK.
All of Faye’s dishes are served with a choice of roti or rice and Faye will be happy to help you choose. The dishes are also reasonably priced, with the meat dishes costing no more than £ 10 and these addicting homemade punches selling for £ 3.50 each.
You leave the restaurant feeling well fed, happy, and trying to figure out when you’ll be free to return.
As we walked out, a visitor said: “I am from North London, if I had known I would have come years ago.
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Do you know of a beloved restaurant that is at the heart of its community? Contact our community reporter, Ruby at [email protected]