In a nutshell
Dalston’s Stoke Newington Road has slowly been transforming from rows of Turkish grills to hipster heaven. Rudie’s fits snuggly into the latter, with contemporary interiors and a young trendy, crowd. The focus here is modern Jamaican, with clever twists on Caribbean classics and a rum menu to boot.
Menu know how
A bunch of small plates and snacks make great sharing starters and give a taste of Jamaican cuisine with contemporary twists. Think ackee and saltfish bakes, spicy shrimp and a Jamaican patty selection. For mains, try something from the grill such us swordfish steak, daily ‘yard classic’ specials or the signature jerk meats. If you can’t choose, go for one of the sharing platters: either a seafood platter piled high with grilled jerk oysters, squid, jumbo prawns, or a selection of meats cooked jerk-style. Top up with a side of rice and peas, sweet potato fries or red cabbage and coriander slaw.
Menu must orders and misfires
Saltfish fritters are served chip-shop style with a little wooden spork and a fiery green dip. These were a little stodgy, but baby squids in a light and crisp jerk batter got the texture just right, and were ideal for dipping in the spicy coriander and lime sauce it came with.
It’s hard to choose from the jerk menu, so we suggest sharing the Ya Man! Platter – a selection of 24-hour jerk-marinated meats cooked over charcoal and wood smoke on the traditional drum in the open kitchen. Half a chicken had charred and crisp skin that peeled off to reveal juicy and tender meat, lamb rump came in thick pink slices, and the hefty pork shoulder pulled away with the gentlest tug of the fork, all with Rudie’s trademark jerk spice. The sauces are great, but be wary as the papaya is eye-wateringly spicy and even the ‘mild’ jerk ketchup packs a considerable punch – true Jamaican, there’s no toning down for the London set.
Banana brûlée dessert was one of the highlights of our meal – a brittle sugar coating hiding a silky banana and coconut milk custard crème below.
Rum cocktails are fruity with generous doses of rum – The Colony is a refreshing rum concoction of Blackwell and Appleton Estate rum with a splash of Brandy de Jerez, tea, ginger and sorrel. If you prefer to knock back a few speciality rums neat, see how you handle Jamaican Appleton Estate 21yo, Guyanan El Dorado 15yo or Venezualan Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva.
What’s the room like?
The contemporary dark wooden tables, chairs and floors are contrasted by bright, clean-cut contours of wooden pillars that curve up from the floor to the ceiling in dramatic light installations reminiscent of palm trees. Wooden bar stools line the central rum bar adorned with the UK’s largest selection of Jamaican rums, and clatters and sizzles from the open kitchen fuse with the reggae soundtrack.
What we’re going back for
We spied a large Caribbean ring cake with rum caramel sauce and laced with, you guessed it, yet more Jamaican rum. You can even add another shot of Appleton VX rum (you see the theme here!).
This is a new contemporary setting for London’s jerk scene, with clever twists on classic Jamaican dishes, some of the best jerk in the capital and an impressive speciality rum selection. Great value, great fun and good vibes.
Written by Alex Crossley
First published April 2016
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