Rudie’s in Dalston
This August marks 55 years since Jamaica become an independent nation and with such an event traditionally calling for an excess of food, drink and music, Rudie’s in Dalston weren’t waiting to be asked twice.
Though characterised by its infamous jerk spices, Jamaican cuisine is a veritable melting pot of Indian, African, Chinese, Spanish and even English flavours. So, drawing on this but with a decidedly more contemporary flair, the menu at Rudie’s pays homage to its maternal roots as well as its new ones, just five minutes from Dalston Kingsland’s overground.
Setting you back £40 a pop, head chef Vernon Samuel takes his guests straight to the Islands with a special five-course feast. An amouse bouche of Jerk Stuffed Wings kicks things off, offering a gentle heat and the first faint whisper of Scotch bonnet chilli. Though delicious, we can’t help but feel robbed of some of the fun – boneless wings unfortunately call for cutlery.
Next comes fiery Jerked Prawns. A salute to Jamaica’s national fruit in the form of delicate ackee mayo is lost ever so slightly in a pool of scotch bonnet pepper coulis; no complaints on this, though, we could drink the stuff. Fat and juicy, three feels more than enough as a starter, though we’d have happily eaten more.
The callaloo, (think swiss chard) and Goats’ Cheese Wontons don’t go amiss either, with fruity pineapple, papaya and cashew dressing sealing the deal. The main event is surely the Curried Goat Cigar, positively busting with tender and generously seasoned meat. Not too greasy but wonderfully crisp, the two rolls sit abreast two gloriously blackened jerked goat cutlets, (less tender but still delicious) and a creamy, almost waxy coco mash.
For something a little lighter, the Poached Red Snapper does the trick. Artfully coiled atop a nest of okra, pumpkin and (you guessed it) more callaloo, its delicate flavours provide a welcome respite from heat – but watch out for bones.
If you can still fit it in, and you’re struggling between the Soursop and Raspberry Mille Feuille and the Chocolate Rum Pot, go for the latter. Though very rich, hazelnut praline paired with those last few drops of booze are surely the only way to end such a feast.
From the laidback ambience and decor to the welcome aromas floating out of the open kitchen, Rudie’s is an idyllic neighbourhood hang-out. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the extensive drinks menu. From Jamaica with Love is a good place to start, particularly if refreshing watermelon strikes your fancy. Don’t be put off by Cool Runnings’ slightly less photogenic appearance – sweet tamarind and mint are happy bedfellows.
A celebration of flavour and culture that spans both oceans and years, Rudie’s pays homage to its heritage in a way that only cooking can. Carving out a corner of London and making it its own, this little spot is as colourful, exciting and comforting as the food itself.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Photos: Daniel Donovan
To book a table at Rudie’s, 50 Stoke Newington Road London N16 7XB, call 0207 249 9930 or visit the website here.