Caribbean food — we’re not over-blessed with it, are we Glasgow?
There are a few — admittedly, very good — bars and pop ups on the go, but much like the sunshine you’d associate with it, Scotch bonnet-kicked Caribbean cuisine is few and far between around these parts.
It’s probably why the new Sugar Dumplin created a bit of a buzz — although foodies might have been surprised to find out it was opening on the top floor of Princes Square.
A space usually reserved for overpriced coffee and chain eateries, it doesn’t seem a likely option for the new and exciting — but Sugar Dumplin has pitched it well, balancing traditional Caribbean flavours with high-end cocktails.
The other half and I picked a suitably muggy evening for a visit and settled in to admire booths made out like beach huts and tropical decor galore. Subtle? Not quite — but it’s colourful and fun, adding a touch of theatre to a midweek dinner treat.
I started with jerk calamari, served with the nyam nyam house mayo (more on that later). I’m used to golden batter, but this was altogether more special; gorgeous breadcrumb with a chilli kick — a taste of seasides more tropical than Ayr beach.
The OH’s fried dumplings were promising; thick, doughy balls — maybe a little dry on their own, but great for dipping in Sugar Dumplin’s signature sauces.
There’s a section of the menu dedicated to them, and we were treated to a taster of each.
The garlic, lime and jerk nyam nyam was wonderful; a zesty take on the traditional garlic mayo. Craven — with roasted peppers, chillies, garlic, tomato and coconut — was a winner, the coconut providing a buttery hint, but with a chilli hint.
The fruity, ginger-laced Irie was good — like a rich Caribbean chutney — but the scotch bonnet assault promised from Lawd a massi sauce didn’t quite deliver. Maybe yours truly has been eating out too often, or playing it fast and loose with the hot sauce but come on, where was my fiery finish?
The OH’s curried goat shoulder was also more subtle than expected, but very tasty; an exotic take on the pulled meat craze, perfectly paired with rice and peas and a gingery stew.
And it’s good news for the vegetarians; you won’t be disappointed with the creole. As much love goes into that butternut, chickpea and coconut curry as any of the meatier options, and I can vouch for it. Sweet, spicy and richer than some of Princes Square’s regular clients, I’d happily eat it again.
If there’s one standout dish on the Sugar Dumplin menu, it’s plantain chips — one of the standard sides along with traditional rice or mash.
Don’t let the name fool you — they’re not like any chips you’ve seen before, Glasgow — in fact, you’ll be comparing them to the banana you top your Weetabix with. But give them a go and you’ll be treated to a dash of sweet, a dash of savoury, a hint of spice and plenty of fried goodness.
There’s an added hint of sunshine to the posh Princes Square these days, and I’m holding Sugar Dumplin responsible — and even as the season starts to fade, I’ll be making a return visit.
Fried dumplins with your choice of sauce - £4.50
Curried goat shoulder slow roast until tender and then pulled with scotch bonnets, ginger and allspice and tomatoes - £11.95
Roasted butternut, chickpea, spinach and coconut in a creole style fresh tomato sauce - £7.75
Total for two (without drinks) - £29.95
Princes Square Shopping Centre
48 Buchanan Street
0141 248 4698