Review: Reggae Roast Carribean Festival

Written by: Sophie Taylor

Roots music, sunbathing and slushies: we hot footed it down to Granary Square in Kings Cross on Friday to embrace the Caribbean fantasy world that was the Reggae Roast Festival.

Surrounding the child-filled water fountains were a circle of street food stalls by Kerb that we attempted to sample the entirety of. It’s a hard life.

By the way and did you know: there’s a Granary Square fountain app you can download and control the water jets with ‘like a giant game of snake’? Erhmagerd. I’m going back with my little nephew to take full advantage of this inevitable hilarity. My nephew won’t really get a look in, he’ll just be there to hold my bag. 

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Steve from the White Men Can’t Jerk stall was our first port of call, emerging from a cloud of smoke with hands made of barbecue tongs and a fiery beard of ginger spice. He’s modest about his creations, which include a genius-like curried mutton shepherd’s pie and Red Stripe-poached fried chicken wings. After a little chat, Steve’s off to tend to his hot friend Talulah: their custom made griller covered with jerk chicken waiting to be devoured by lucky, lucky punters. I wish we’d tried their Jerk Halloumi but we’ll be back.

While we wait for gin and tequila Watermelon slushies from the Reggae Roast bar (slightly expensive at over £20 for 3 but completely worth it after one slurp), our Mike slopes off to the Only Jerkin stall for a box of sweet potato fritters. Oh, the crunchy soft salty sweet sticks of orange nirvana. Their mango banana chutney dip looks suspiciously like baby food but tastes more like ooh baby that’s the good stuff.

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Our Tavia decides on an exotic fish wrap from Vinn Goute, packed tight with spice and flavour in silver foil served on a bed of lettuce, creole sauce and homemade chilli and mayonnaise. The tropical flavours of the shores of the Seychelles were out in force at Kings Cross. Kerb are a picky street food collective and only invite the top notchiest of tastebud providers around. Before signing traders up as KERBanists they ‘inKERBate’ them (their words, not ours, but we enjoy the punny-ness of it all). They say this is to ensure that “every business we work with is KERB-ready and firing on all cylinders – from food quality to operations to look/feel and service”. After this and all going well, they invite inKERBators to become fully fledged members (KERBanists).

I plump for a Jerk pork bun from Kerb inKERBators, Pig & Rig who are a delightful bunch with a trio of special sauces to choose from and dip popcorn into before deciding on your saucy pork treat. I go for Jeps Jerk sauce and blow out my cobwebs for at least a month. They usually bring their own sound system, it’s their thing, but can’t compete today with Reggae Roast’s own speaker wall pumping out UK Reggae from the other side of the square.

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Reggae Roast’s sound system starts to win against the wind and we find ourselves hovering towards the reggae beats emitting from their custom-built speaker arrangement. It’s a sight to behold: 9 foot high, futuristic and thick with roots music. Adam Prescott (check out our interview with the man himself here) is picking the tunes while the rest of the label’s members dance around him and request Bob Marley tracks just to piss him off. They’re a friendly crew who don’t mind a good natter around the DJ tent over a watermelon slushie.

Round the back of the decks are the canal-side grassy steps, which were covered in people chinwagging and collecting Pokemon in the sun. It might not be a Caribbean island, but for a square overlooking a train station it’s not half bad.

Missed out? Sad about it? Dry your eyes and look out for more Reggae Roast and Kerb events on their facebook pages, they’re always busy.

Photos: Mike Barry

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