By Paloma Lacy
Since arriving in the UK more than 20 years ago, Sham Mahabir has done his best to share the culinary culture of his beloved Trinidad & Tobago with others.
After years of cooking for friends at home, he finally opened his own restaurant two years ago, at Old Spitalfields Market.
When last year Limin’ was forced to close its doors, due to the landlord having other plans for the site, Mr Mahabir was determined to find another location.
He is a steely fellow and not one to take no for an answer.
After much searching, he finally found a site at Gabriel’s Wharf on the South Bank earlier this year, signing the lease just before the UK went into lockdown.
Some would have walked away, but he used the time before restaurants were finally allowed to reopen again on July 4 to fully prepare for Limin’ Beach Club’s launch mid-July.
In the 10 weeks since opening, no fewer than 10,000 customers have graced the sandy terrace floor.
It’s not been a hard sell, a beach club, taking you virtually to the shores of the Caribbean, right in the heart of central London.
The good weather has of course helped, with most now preferring al fresco dining, so Limin’s been on to something of a winner with its timing.
Limin Beach Club certainly looks the part, with its brightly-coloured exterior and tropical frescos gracing the interior walls.
Mr Mahabir is a master of invention, and nowhere is this touch more visible than the menu.
It began life with barbecue classics and lots of rum, taking diners through the summer months.
In mid-September, when I visited, it was time to take things back to his T&T roots.
It’s served tapas-style, so what might otherwise be heavy food, simply isn’t.
Curry chicken, bust up shots, wicked wings, national dish doubles and plantain balls are all centre stage, and through these dishes, Mr Mahabir is showing London how Caribbean food should be.
It isn’t easy to come by Trini food in London, with Jamaican food continuing to dominate.
He plans to refine the menu further, with his recent announcement that James Durrant, winner of the Great British Menu, has joined as executive chef.
Having done his time in a number of Michelin kitchens, including that of Gordon Ramsay, many will be waiting to see what he creates at Limin’ when his new menu is introduced next month.
Mr Mahabir said: “I’m absolutely delighted to welcome James Durrant to Limin’ Beach Club.
“James and I will work together to create a unique menu, taking inspiration from the flavours of my Trinidad & Tobago.
“This has never been done before, and to say I’m excited is an understatement.
““I recognised we have an excellent opportunity to showcase Trinbagonian cuisine on the South Bank, but I also know this is as far as I can take it, not being a trained chef myself.
“For those thinking you won’t get your favourites, please note, we will keep the classics and more traditional dishes, but I feel it’s time we share with the world our unique flavours.
“It’s time we elevate the offering as so many other countries have done. Let’s proudly claim our place on the culinary landscape.”
Rum is hugely important at Limin’, and if you’re lucky executive liquid chef Paolo Molinaro will be on hand to talk you through the flights available to whisk you through the Caribbean.
What Mr Mahabir has created in such a short time is nothing short of magnificent. It really needs to be experienced.
Pictured top: Limin’ Beach Club
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.