Working in Waterloo can be bit strange, the area feels like it’s constantly in transition, with people scuffling in and out of the station to get from a to b, but one of the things I can rely on to be there everyday is the incredible Jerk Chicken a-bbqing on Waterloo Millenium Green. The green itself is an interesting and diverse pocket of open space in the city with its owners working in partnership with St.Mungos, the homeless charity. Together, they have planted potatoes all around the border and slowly but surely take care of its upkeep. The jerk chicken stall is a permanent feature and it billows its own lovely smokey smells all the way to the back entrance of Waterloo station. The rickety old marquee does always look like it’s going to fall down, but the humongous drum barrell bbq burns come rain, shine or even snow.
Getting lunch here is such a joyful experience. The owner pretty much makes the place, he wouldn’t tell me his name and just wanted to be referred to as the ‘Rasta on the green with the chicken’, yet called me ‘sista’ all the time and gave me a choice of pumpkin rice, rice and peas, oxtail stew and jerk chicken. Then there’s gravy, which is taken from the oxtail stew, with homemade dumplings and extra spicy chilli sauce (‘imported from that corner shop over there’ he chuckles). Whilst waiting today, a few of his friends were hanging about and I started chatting to a guy who told me that the reason he spends his lunchbreak there is because he ‘gets to talk to people from all walks of life, people who wouldn’t talk to you on the train’, it’s that sort of place.
The warm atmosphere made me feel comfortable enough to ask the chef about his cooking techniques, but of course everything is his mum’s secret. What I did gather was that he buys all of his produce from Smithfields market and everything is cooked fresh that day after being soaked in tasty marinade the night before.
I told him about crumpeats and he let me know that if I googled him I’d find out more about him and his entry on Britains best dish..unsuprisingly the only mention I could find was his stall as a meeting point for the St.Mungo’s group..this needs to change!
But what about the food itself? The chicken was absolutely delicious and so full of spicey, warm flavours. The flesh was juicy and the skin crisp and smokey. Eating it with my hands, peeling off the beautiful meat and sucking out the flavour really was the only way to go..I started with a knife and fork and he stood there laughing at me, getting ready to demonstrate. The rice and peas were clovey and suprisingly light and the salad was well, pretty pointless as it was soaked in rich yet sweet gravy. Best of all my £5 portion fed 2 people..if you’re ever in Waterloo for lunch this is one not to miss.