Words by Ashley Henderson
South East London has a hidden gem, tucked away in the arches underneath Deptford rail station. Buster Mantis has recently just celebrated its first successful year as a new creative space with chilled out drinking and dining, and is sure to continue whipping up a storm in the ever changing location of Deptford High Street. Being a Deptford local myself, I was incredibly keen to give this place a try, to see what all the fuss was about - and hell, weren't they right!
First things first: Location. The outside seating area leads you to the main entrance, where sofa’s and soft seating scattered around rustic wood and iron benches instantly create a chilled out, welcoming atmosphere. Through the middle of the venue, a 5ft tiled wall lists their cocktails and weekly events, drawn on the tiles, immediately absorbing you into a relaxed and very cool place. The bar, situated at the far end, next to the kitchen sports an incredibly well thought out spirit selection, local beers and of course…Red Stripe - it has to be done right?
The menu selection, covering small plates, burgers and authentic Jamaican dishes covers most eating requirements, so never fear local vegetarians! The Jack-Fruit burger sounded amazing, I’d certainly encourage you to go try it!
Sadly they were out of the Saltfish fritters so the meal started with a Smoked Mackerel Pate with crispy toast and a tomato chutney, which set up the evening for success. The well seasoned but not overpowering flavour of the Mackerel tasted amazing with the toast and chutney, and honestly didn't last long on the plate!
For mains, I opted for the Ackee and Saltfish, fried dumplings and plantain and my guest chose the Jerk Pork Burger served with fries and homemade Aioli. My main dish was incredible, and although it pains me to admit it, it was the first time I had tried ANY of it…including plantain, which as I live in Deptford, I should be ashamed. Although it seems I am late to the party with the authentic Jamaican cuisine, it sure was worth the wait. The saltfish was seasoned beautifully with the perfect amount of scotch bonnet to give it a kick, immediately takes this dish to one of my top comfort-food dishes.
The Jerk Pork Patty (which I got a sneaky bite of) complimented with caramelised onion, cheese, and your standard burger gubbins, was easily a contender as one of the best burgers I have enjoyed since living in London.
The Portion sizes of the meals were more than adequate for a filling dinner and incredibly fair in terms of price. The pricing of the menu is if anything, surprising as for the area it is more than reasonable and I feel it really opens itself up to the local community to be able to afford and enjoy a evening out. Drinks prices again are reasonable (especially for London), they have a happy hour (Hooray!) and there is good range of wines, including sparkling wines, as well as the well sourced local beers. In all, it is a great setting for after work drinks, group dinners and also even for a more intimate setting. The service is genuine, relaxed, and friendly and the team all seem to work together incredibly well and enjoy what they do.
It's definitely worth the trip whether you live in Deptford or further afield. Grab your keys and get out of the door and go, go, go! Buster Mantis has celebrated its 1 year anniversary and I wish it all the success in the future as part of the local history and culture of Deptford.
With your South London Club Card you can also get 10% off your bill.