Leave It To Esmie, Fargo Village, Coventry
Not to be cliched, but with its colourful giant floor to ceiling wall mural, reggae and laid back bamboo beach hut bar vibes, Leave It To Esmie’s instantly puts a smile on your face.
It just reminds you of summer holidays, beaches by the sea and sunshine – the bright yellow, greens and reds of the cushions and seat covers are straight out of La La Land.
Immediately it put us grown-ups in the mood for one of these…(Rum Punch with Appleton’s Rum).
It was the last weekend of Feb Half Term, so Mr Muddy and I took the girls’ out for tea at the new Caribbean restaurant at Fargo Village with their Jamaican grandma and great-aunt. We’ve been so keen to go that my husband took a day off work on the Monday – but it’s closed and on Tuesdays. That’s totally my fault for not checking online first! We didn’t reserve a table either and it was fully booked, so we did have to wait a little. You can learn from my mistakes. But it was definitely worth it!
Impressively Esmie’s caters for all dietary needs with three different menus – regular, vegetarian/vegan and gluten-free. Starters range from Salt Fish Fritters to Jerk Calamari, Escovitch Garlic Prawns, and BBQ glazed Chicken Wings. Veggie/Vegan options include Caribbean Polenta Batons and Seasoned Cassava.
As one of the original traders at Birmingham’s award-winning street food event, Digbeth Dining Club, Esmie’s done a great deal of market research and come up with a sure-fire hit – the Caribbean burger! You can have a number of different fillings including curry mutton, jerk chicken, Stewed saltfish, vegetarian mixed beans curry, jerk soya in a white rum in fused BBQ sauce, or vegetarian Mutton like curry topped with mixed salad.
Both of my daughters ordered her speciality creation – one with mutton and one veggie mutton – and absolutely loved it! It’s made with giant fried dumpling -crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside – with a mild Jamaican curry sauce in the middle. It was so big they couldn’t eat it all in one go and brought half home.
When the older one sent her school friend a photo of her tea on Snapchat her mum nearly crashed the car. She wanted to know where it was from and to go there straight away!
The Children’s Menu has four choices – BBQ Beef Sausages, BBQ Chicken Wrap, Creole Spaghetti and Meatballs or Burger and Chips (£4.99). It’s very child-friendly, while we were in the restaurant two big groups of families with young children and prams came in-and-out. There were also older family groups and couples.
My mother-in-law had Honey Glazed Salmon with Rice and Peas, which came with a garlic and wine sauce. She said she could have taken a touch more heat…
Her sister really enjoyed the Grilled Sea Bass…
Here’s Mr Muddy’s Caribbean Style Fish & Chips…
and my flavoursome veggie Jerk Soya Burrito.
It’s true, it can only be described as ‘Caribbean sunshine wrapped in sweet chilli tortilla’. Inside it’s filled with rice & peas, jerk soya, plantain and a drizzle of homemade BBQ sauce.
Highly recommended by all. Other regular mains include Jerk Meatballs, Jerk Soft Shell Crab Burger, Curry Mutton and Ackee & Saltfish. For Vegetarians/Vegans there’s Vegan Mutton like Curry, Callaloo Bake and Mixed Bean Curry. There’s sides too, Fried Plantain, Calypso Rice and Steamed Cabbage and Carrot. The portions were generous and we genuinely didn’t have room for desserts. But if you did there’s delicious looking Caribbean-inspired cakes to tempt you…
There’s plenty to see and do in Fargo Village before or after (check out my guide to find out What’s On this spring here). If you want to go shopping the city centre’s a 10-minute walk away, Coventry Cathedral is within easy walking distance too, as is the super child-friendly Herbert Art Gallery and Museum.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Anyone who loves a bit of spice and wants to be reminded of hot summers, sunshine and sandy beaches – families, couples on a date, urban city dwellers, shoppers and students (decent prices and filling!). It’s a cheerful, laid-back setting for a social gathering, birthday or a celebration with polite, friendly service and has really interesting choices for vegetarians/vegans and anyone on a gluten-free diet.
Not for: Diners wanting formal white table-cloth service.
£££: Very good value. £4-£9.99 for starters; Mains – £6.99-£12.99 for a mixed platter. Children’s menu: £4.99. Sides £2-£3. Speciality drinks: Home-made Rum Punch – £4.95, Guinness Punch, £3.95 and Sexy Juice £3 (it’s a non-alcoholic with condensed milk if you’re curious). On Sundays there’s an All-You-Can-Eat buffet for £15pp) 12pm-8pm.
Leave It To Esmie, Fargo Village, Coventry, CV1 5ED, leaveittoesmie.co.uk/home/4577843610. Tel: 02477 986782 /07795544544. Opening times: Wednesday & Thursday 12-8pm; Friday & Saturday 12-11pm; Sundays 12pm-8pm