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Review: Carib Kreol, Malmö, Sweden

On our first glance in, the restaurant was completely empty. My foodie companion and I were beginning to doubt just how delicious this place could be. One of the top picks from our Malmö local expert, Carib Kreol is a Caribbean-inflected eatery and bar buried in the backstreets of hip neighbourhood Möllevang. The fact that it was surrounded by brutalist concrete housing blocks - an unfortunate hangover from a socialist state housing scheme in the 60s - and its neighbours were a casino and less-than-swanky bar didn’t really help matters. But it was still early and the local experts’ promise of barbecued meat and cocktails made with fresh ginger and coconut, not to mention the straw canopied bar strewn with tropical fruits that we had spotted through the window, was too alluring to miss out on.  

As we wandered the backstreets of Möllevang munching on pistachios from a small Arab foods store to bide our time until the restaurant filled up, I thought how unlike the rest of Sweden this city felt. Here, immigrant-owned corner shops stood alongside boho-chic bars and clubs right in the city centre, and there was a broader diversity of cultures and styles of people. Most of all, it was the worn down, ramshackle air; the advertising posters peeling at the edges and the dirty, pothole-ridden streets that made the city feel more lived in, more real even. 

We returned, too hungry to wait longer, but there were only a few more diners: a trio of dolled up  girls sipping mojitos on the woven sofas along the window filled with overgrown plants and the owner’s friends chatting at the bar. We were seated at one of the regular wooden tables (sadly, the one under the parasol had been reserved), and were handed some hand drawn menus by the waitress who had a voice fit for relaxation tape. 

I recognized the Acees - Caribbean fritters - so we went for them as a starter and got some Red Stripe in while we mulled over the mains. After a short wait, we were served a basket of steaming pillows of shredded root vegetables, which on their own were admittedly tasteless, but came with incredible habanero chili, mango aioli and avocado dips. We devoured them, searing our tongues in the process.

The list of mains ranged from Caribbean classics - jerk with potato wedges - to the more intrepid - vegan stew with pumpkin and plantain. I was on strict instructions to get the ribs (as were most of the customers apparently) and we got the Mahi Mahi fish for variation. Perhaps it was the thirty-five minute wait and resulting famished delirium that influenced us, but the ribs looked spectacular and tasted even better; a bulky rack of meat dripping with guava and chili marinade accompanied by a well-seasoned dollop of sweet potato puree. They were so good that after a quick glance around the room, my companion decided to go at it barbarian style, tearing off pieces of succulent meat dipped in ginger sauce.

My pan fried slice of flaky fish left no complaints, except the desire for a bigger cut, and was drizzled in a tart but sweet tamarind sauce. Sadly, the cold slab of mushed vegetables left me drooling over the julienne carrots, saffron rice and pomegranate seeds that our neighbour had with his perfectly-charred jerk chicken. I know what I’ll be ordering next time.

Still, the food was rich and filling so we skipped dessert and went for Caribbean coffee instead; actually, warm rum cleverly disguised with enough whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles to make it look like a children’s dessert. When we were told that a Brazilian band was coming on soon, we ordered some cocktails and spent the evening wishing ourselves away to an island paradise. We left feeling sweaty and exhausted from the dancing, but inspired by the exotic experience in the middle of an industrial town in Sweden.

Need to know:

Amazing glazing ribs: SEK 158

Caribbean coffee: SEK 78

Mahi-Mahi fish with tamarind, sweet potato: SEK 168

Open: Mon-Thu: 6pm - 1am, Fri-Sat: 4pm - 1am

Carib Kreol, Claesgatan 11, +46 40 96 55 05

Natalie@GuidePal in Malmö

The Malmö City Guide will be out next week.