Head to Dalston for high calibre Caribbean cuisine and cocktails at Rudie’s.
I don’t go out for Jamaican or Caribbean food all that often in London. It’s not because I don’t love the cuisine but because (save for a short list of awesome places) I tend to find most of what’s on offer doesn’t live up to my expectations of how good the food can be. So I’m pleased to report my recent dinner at Rudie’s in Dalston turned out to be such a tasty treat.
Small plates like ackee and saltfish (£7.50), calamari (fried in seasoned polenta, £7) and pork ribs (with an Appleton and molasses glaze, £6.50) as well as sides such as chow chow and carrot slaw (£3.50) are certain to please most palates and appetites. I liked trying them all.
Of course, the make-or-break dish at any Jamaican restaurant is the jerk chicken. And Rudie’s is the real deal. Available in half (£13.50) and quarter (£8) portions, Rudie’s signature jerk chicken is marinated for 24 hours in a secret blend that tasted balanced on my palate (no one flavour jumped out) before being cooked over charcoal and wood smoke in traditional drums. I wnet with a half portion and had it served with hot sauce – which was fiery indeed but far from pain inducing and still retaining flavour, not just heat.
Without realising it before my visit, I was already a fan of Rudie’s Head Chef, Vernon Samuels. My experience trying his “inspired, thoughtfully prepared and intriguingly tasteful” cookery a couple of years back when he was running the kitchen at the now defunct Le Menar. It’s great to see him back in action (and cooking dishes close to his heart; his mom’s Jamaican).
Fantastic food’s just part of the story though. I was thorougly impressed with the cocktails. In particular, the Mai Tai (Appleton, Curacao, orgeat, £7.50) was the right mix of the best notes of this classic drink. As with Jamaican food, I tend not to go out for tiki drinks in London too much. They generally are poorly prepared and sickly sweet (plus a decent cocktail can be bloody expensive in this town!). So £7.50 for an ideal Mai Tai worth’s shouting about and keeping in mind for future quality drinking sessions.
Rudie’s is located at 50 Stoke Newington Road, N16 7XB. Find out more at rudieslondon.com.