Olympic hero Usain Bolt launches UK’s first Track & Records venue. Zoe Fryday reports
Those in search of authentic Caribbean flavour can sample the vibrant rum cocktails on offer at London’s first Track & Records bar, restaurant and late lounge. The entire concept of the venue has been developed in collaboration with world-famous eight-time Olympic medallist and sprinter Usain Bolt, who originates from Kingston, Jamaica.
Officially launched to the public in October, the Track & Records franchise boasts three restaurants under the same name in Kingston, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay. In contrast to the other locations, the new London site, which is based just a few minutes’ walk from Liverpool Street Station on Middlesex Street, does not offer sunshine, yet as you enter, the warmth of the Caribbean is most certainly evoked.
The large, open-plan space features a mix of bold colours where walls are adorned with Usain’s sports memorabilia, classic reggae records and bespoke Jamaican artwork. There are even time clocks featuring the sprinter’s 100m and 200m world records. Split across two levels, downstairs covers a bar, spacious dance floor and club alongside a Jamaican- inspired chill out area to immerse guests in the island’s vibes. Overall, the design is modern and defined, with unpretentious furniture and seating for diners, enriched by a cascade of exotic foliage. Smart down-lighting accentuates the colourful statement bar from Aspen Concepts, which stocks an extensive selection of tipples. Downstairs presents a cool, sophisticated smaller bar area, incorporating comfortable sofas, exposed brickwork and moody, ambient lighting.
Diners can work their way through an array of Usain’s favourite dishes, all of which are packed full of authentic Jamaican seasoning and spices. Signature dishes include the 24hr marinated jerk chicken, which is smoked over pimento wood and served with hardo bread, festival (a type of dumpling), fried plantain and coleslaw. Within the small plates section of the menu, crispy BBQ wings drizzled with an infused Appleton Rum sauce sit alongside saltfish fritters with coconut and cassava prawns.
Without a doubt, the ultimate attraction of Track & Records is its extensive collection of global rums. The drinks list, which has been cultivated from over 100 varieties of Jamaican rum, offers a range of signature cocktails including traditional favourites and a new range all exclusively created for London. Since opening, the bar’s signature cocktails have been extremely popular with guests, including blends such as the 2012, made with Appleton white, Bacardi 8yr, pineapple juice, passion fruit pure, fresh lime juice, cinnamon syrup. In addition, the Ambassador’s Selection is made up of blends such as the Mama Breeze, with Koko Kanu, Rum Bar Silver, lychee juice, fresh lime juice, agave nectar, topped with Mumm champagne, as well as Reggae Rum Punch, with Wray & Nephew, orange juice, pineapple juice, grenadine syrup, and fresh lime juice. House classics include everything from Classic Margaritas through to Mint Juleps and Pornstar Martinis. The team have also ensured they can deliver mocktails, a solid wine list, and some great bottled, draught and craft beers.
A funky soundtrack of reggae, dub and other world beats, courtesy of live DJ sets from top names in the music industry, elevates a Caribbean party feel in the downstairs lounge. With an emphasis on entertainment, the venue holds private events for up to 250 people and occasionally features up and coming live artists and musicians. “We have contemporized one of the coolest brands in the world – Jamaica,” says Jamie Gordon of the SME Group, which operates Track & Records Middlesex Street under franchise license. “Our new location, in the heart of the capital, is the perfect spot for friends to get together and embrace Jamaican culture by enjoying traditional flavours, while dancing the night away.”
The Track & Records brand plans to open a further 15 sites by 2022. “Based on the demand we are experiencing, along with customers response to the concept, we are optimistic that the expansion throughout the UK market will be well received,” adds Jamie. “We hope that it’ll add a bit of authentic Jamaican fun. With food, a huge drinks menu, some dancing and a bit of sport thrown in, it will have something for everyone.”
Track & Records, 94 Middlesex St, London E1 7EZ
Behind the scenes
Interior design: Artsmiths Interiors
Design and initial concept drawings: Holman Neville
Fit-out: Dimensions Interiors
Furniture design and delivery: Abbey Business Solutions
Bar design and fit-out: Aspen Concepts
Originally published in the December 2018 print edition of Bar magazine.