Liverpool is one of the few places you can eat all over the world in one street.
Indian is our national dish, we all love a Chinese on a weekend but there is a cuisine becoming ever-increasingly popular amongst the foodies; Caribbean. Born out of apathy towards the current Caribbean offering in Liverpool, brothers Verdain and Gareth with the help of lots of family and a mysterious chef with all the recipes called Ragga decided to take the task on themselves. Raggas has delighted the tastebuds and captured the hearts of people from all walks of life who haven’t been lucky enough to have cruise the sandy beaches of the Caribbean and taste authentic Jamaican food themselves. It was love at first bite when we put that first fork into our mouths at Raggas and it has been Jamaican us crazy ever since (oh come on, we had to).
Jamaican recipes vary but all have basic foundations and a lot of the importance of the dish relies on the spices and flavour you can pack in. It would be impossible to get the desired flavour made to order so the brothers of Raggas are up at the crack of the dawn slicing and dicing and consequently filling the surrounding streets with the aromas of their home. The tenderness of the meat and fish is a sight to be seen, legend has it that you could slice through it with a plastic fork but they have proper cutlery just in case. Ragga hails from Port Antonio which is about 60 miles away from Kingston and is the third largest port, making his childhood full of fresh fish and seafood dishes. The hard work soon paid off and Raggas got their first premises on the extremely cosmopolitan Smithdown Road where they started off with modest beginnings but triumphed quickly. I guess you could say that they went from “raggas to riches”.
The premises on Smithdown was soon a favourite in the community and the prices made it cheaper to eat there than cook themselves. They roped in their other Brother and their Mother to help keep up with demand which adds a certain heart warming aspect to the story. Another location popped up on Lark Lane and the ambiance of the stretch combined with the surrounding businesses meant Raggas nestled in snuggly and history repeated itself when it became a favourite amongst the locals. They are all big believers in the concept of community and encompassing your surroundings and that is why near enough every piece of furniture, ornament or art was picked up within a radius of 200 yards. Raggas offer both takeaway and the option to eat in so you can immerse yourself within the shop and stuff your nose as well as your mouth with the sweet smell of the Caribbean or you can have a piece of Jamaica delivered straight to your door. All of Raggas meals are nutritious and freshly prepared with the only the best of ingredients, each meal is packed with vegetables so put down the Juice Plus, and show the reps and the world what real vegetables really look like.
Whilst Ragga has returned home and is daily eating Jamaican food or what Jamaicans call “food”, he is safe in the knowledge his secret recipes are being tasted by hundreds of people every day. They are heavily involved with the incredible Africa Oye and you will be able to taste their delicious food at the event in Sefton Park mid June if they haven’t ran out by the time you get there. Raggas is more than just a restaurant, it is a place where new friends go for dinner, old friends bump into each other and where new friendships blossom. Raggas are role models in the black community and although they are no Malcolm X or Martin Luther King, they offer a little sanctuary to the people where you don’t have to be anyone but you. The food is definitely good for your hips but the experience is good for your soul. Independent Liverpool cardholders will be happy to know they can get 10% off with the card at the Lark Lane Raggas so I guess your hardest decision is; jerk chicken, curried goat or salt fish and ackee? We’ll have one of each with rice and pea. Follow them on twitter, visit their website http://www.raggas.co.uk/ and make sure you head down for a bowl of goodness that is impossible to replicate without the recipe.