There comes a time every year when I decide now is the moment to go vegan.

That crunch time recently arrived on Christmas Day, as I lay bloated on my sofa after eating far too much cheese and consoling myself that Veganuary was just around the corner so I could give my stomach a month off.

Globally, 629,000 signed up for going plant-based in January 2022.

But if I’m being truthful with myself, I have never been and am unlikely to ever be one of these converts. 

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Suffice to say that by the end of New Year’s Day, my Veganuary was officially over.

The cause, however, is undeniably noble – a study by Oxford University found that the adoption of a vegan diet worldwide would cut food-related emissions by 70 per cent.

In that spirit, a trip to Jam Delish, a new vegan Caribbean restaurant in Islington would have been too good an opportunity to miss.

The Resident: 'Blue Lagoon' is one of the restaurant's signature cocktails'Blue Lagoon' is one of the restaurant's signature cocktails (Image: Alex Marsh)

At first glance, the restaurant is relatively unassuming. Jam Delish is in Tolpuddle Street, a short walk from Angel station and opposite a Sainsbury’s car park, a location that felt more practical than scenic. In fairness, there are not many Islington streets that can double for a Caribbean idyll.

But once inside, it was easy to feel as if I had been transported across the Atlantic to warmer climes. Holding my ‘Blue Lagoon’ - one of Jam Delish’s more iridescent cocktails, combining Jamaican rum, curacao, coconut and pineapple juice - I started to take in my surroundings.

The space is warmly-lit and airy, coloured by the calming tropical blue of the restaurant seating. It is safe to say that after another ‘Blue Lagoon’ I would have had no trouble believing that the large palm tree flanking the restaurant bar was actually swaying by a Caribbean beach.

The Resident: The palm tree and blue seating give Jam Delish a tropical feelThe palm tree and blue seating give Jam Delish a tropical feel (Image: Seyi Odeyemi)

It was time to decide which food to try – no easy feat, as Jam Delish offers an extensive menu of both small and large plates. After much to-ing and fro-ing, I decided that less would not be more in this situation, and ordered four different dishes.

The first plate to arrive was the marinated ‘chicken’ wings, each with a different flavour – jerk, BBQ and lemon pepper. I admit that as a vegetarian of more than six years, it has been a while since I ate a ‘real’ chicken wing. But after trying Jam Delish’s vegan alternative, there is no chance I would ever choose the real thing again, even if I did return to carnivorous ways. Cleverly wrapped around sugar cane skewers, the ‘chicken’ was perfectly tender and bursting with flavour.

The Resident: Jam Delish's 'chicken' wings and 'fish' tacos Jam Delish's 'chicken' wings and 'fish' tacos (Image: Alex Marsh)

The other dishes that followed – ‘fish tacos’ with pickle de gallo and mango sauce, jerk birria tacos with Jamaican gravy, and BBQ jerk plantain sprinkled with peanuts and pomegranates – were equally impressive. Jam Delish’s food delivers what the name promises.

But perhaps what is most remarkable about the restaurant, and the quality of the food it is able to produce, is how new the enterprise is.

Jam Delish started as a family affair in 2020 during the first Covid lockdown, and was soon operating out of a ghost kitchen in Wimbledon. Less than three years later, and after the seal of approval from celebrities such as Black Panther actress Letitia Wright and rap star Common, the company’s flagship restaurant opened in Angel.

Many of the recipes on the menu are original favourites from 2020. Co-founder Jordan Johnson highlighted his mum’s jerk ‘chicken’ wings and curry ‘goat’ as some of the most popular.

The Resident: Jam Delish's jerk birria tacos and BBQ jerk plantainJam Delish's jerk birria tacos and BBQ jerk plantain (Image: Alex Marsh)

But Jam Delish has been rewarded for expanding its horizons, filling out its menu and employing highly-regarded chef Nathan Collymore to oversee its kitchen.

The experience is not inexpensive. Cocktails cost upwards of £10, with small plates priced between £7.50 and £11. Larger plates will set you back between £16 and £19.

But, if you have the budget, there is no denying that Jam Delish is worth the price.

Forget Veganuary, I would happily be vegan for the rest of my days if Jam Delish was on the menu.

Address: 1 Tolpuddle Street N1 0XT