Jerk, a dry rub or wet marinade made from a myriad of spices, is a widely recognised dish that makes up one strand of the spectrum of bold, piquant flavours of Jamaican cuisine. Rosie Campbells is a recently opened jerk diner and rum bar located on the popular dining scene of Crown Street in Surry Hills, giving Sydney diners a taste of the lesser-known but equally as tasty fare of the Caribbean.
The technicolour interior is laden with pops of bright, retro wallpaper and studded with feel-good phrases like ‘Choose Jerk not Werk’ and ‘Everything’s Rosier with Rum!’. Funky Caribbean vibes play in the background amid retro blue banquettes, eclectic table tops and quirky wall-hangings to create a fun, laid-back atmosphere.
Combining the all-American-style diner with the tropical spirit of Jamaica, the venue serves brunch, lunch and dinner, as well as a wide range of cocktails and specially imported Rum straight from the Caribbean among other alcoholic drinks. On the menu are small nibbles such as jerk wings and corn fritters, and larger dishes like grilled jerk chicken, slow-cooked ribs and Cuban sandwiches. It’s not all about the jerk though – sides like rice ‘n’ peas, Bahamian mac & cheese and Jamaican patties are perfect to whet your appetite.
Montego Bay Punch
The Montego Bay mocktail is refreshing and sweet, a mix of tropical flavours ornately topped with a wedge of passionfruit and dried citrus shard.
Kingston Corn Fritters
Corn fritters are a favourite, marbled with chunky kernels of sweet corn they have a crispy, caramelised edge. They’re light and fresh, topped with a zingy salsa which provides another layer of crunch and flavour. Orange-tinged sweet chilli sauce adds extra heat, which is counteracted by cooling herb yoghurt.
Jerk Pork Dumplings
A Jamaican take on the Asian favourite, deep-fried pork dumplings are topped with a tangy, flavour-packed jerk sauce. A little sparse on the meat, the sauce compensates by adding a complex, spicy punch.
Jerk Chicken Sliders
A mini version of the Jerk chicken burgers offered on the menu, these sliders feature their signature Jerk chicken, which is moist and juicy.
Wedged into a toasted bun with sunshine slaw and dill pickle, although very tasty, the jerk flavour does not shine as much as expected; it’s more of a subtle undertone.
To the uninitiated, the Cuban is a comforting variation of the classic ham and cheese sandwich, featuring roast pork and Swiss cheese along with pickles and mustard. Their version uses slow-roasted pork shoulder, sliced thin with a smothering of yellow mustard, mayo and pungent dill pickle, oozing a delicious layer of cheese. It’s stuffed inside a toasted, sweet bun which goes well with the gooey, tangy, tasty filling – all you could ever want in a toasted sandwich!
Sweet Potato Fries
Sweet potato fries are crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and seasoned with a peppery, spiced salt. The dense texture of the sweet potato gives them a good bite which makes for a welcoming alternative to traditional, fluffier potato chips. The jerk mayo served alongside is a winner, flavoured with a spicy complexity that makes it truly addictive.
Jerk Salad with Chicken
A tumble of black beans, mango, fresh herbs and jerk chicken, this salad is a true representation of the freshness of Caribbean food that we love. Dressed in a light but creamy buttermilk dressing, speckles of hot chilli are dotted amid a cucumber salsa. The tropical flavour provided by the mango is refreshing against the tasty char of the chicken.
Carrot, red cabbage and granny smith apple is mixed with a turmeric and ginger dressing in this sunshine slaw. This features in their jerk chicken slider, too. It’s crunchy and colourful, but a lot blander compared to the other dishes we tried.
Drench anything in a warm, caramel sauce, and it’s guaranteed to make the world seem a better place. These miniature cakes soak up the rum-flavoured caramel like a sponge, making for a moist, dense sweet treat. A delicious banana ice cream, laced with the nostalgic flavours of banana lollies, complements it well, and we wish there was more to mop up with our spoons.
The pineapple is fresh, with a rum caramel drizzle adding a good touch of sweetness. The meringue drops are hard and a bit tough, and the rum and raisin ice cream is a little too boozy for our liking.
With its cheerful atmosphere and punchy, fresh food, new venture Rosie Campbells brings the tropical, eclectic parties of Jamaica to the streets of Sydney’s colourful dining scene. It’s the perfect place leave all your worries behind and bask in the carefree ambience of the Caribbean.
320 Crown Street
Surry Hills, NSW
Contributed by Maddie, who dined as a guest on behalf of 2 Hungry Guys