The February weather was icy to say the least and there is nothing that takes the edge off like soul food. For those of you not familiar with this term, Soul Food refers to cuisine originating from African/Caribbean culture and closely related to that of the African-American culture you’ll find in the Southern states of the US. Now as someone with Caribbean roots, I’ve been on the hunt for a restaurant who can make it like my family does. Whilst there are a handful of good take out restaurants in London, Rudie’s is the perfect example of everything I’ve been waiting for, that enamors Caribbean culture and houses the classics that everyone should know about.
A corner on the quieter end of Kingsland Road boasts London’s hottest new Jamaican restaurant, Rudie’s. Where you can expect to be greeted by charming staff and forgetting the frost upon entering this cosy, candle lit restaurant. The interior is all wooden frames, modern twists on Caribbean icons and low lit lighting - you will fall to ease in this chilled environment which also serves up the ultimate romantic vibe. This is the perfect date spot.
My friend and I were greeted by warm and informative staff who ran us through everything we needed to know. Rudie’s boasts a fantastic selection of rum and rum based cocktails with ‘House Signatures’ including the Jamaica Nice (a mix of almond syrup, lime, nectarine, pineapple, Koko Kanu and Appleton V/X rums) and The Colony (Brandy de Jerez, Blackwell and Appleton V/X rums, tea from the Indies and ginger). For the less adventurous there are the ‘Island Classics’ such as the Dark & Stormy (Gosling Rum and Ginger Beer) and the Mai Tai ( Rum, Curacao Liqueur and lime juice). For those less interested in the cocktail scene, they house London craft beer including Shoreditch Blonde and Hoxton Stout. Don’t worry there is also a great selection of White and Red wine, Prosecco and Rose.
Now onto the food. Oh, the food. The menu is a concoction of the caribbean classics but you’ll also find some modern twists on some old favourites. Split into the sections ‘Small Plates’, ‘Real Jerk’, ‘Grill’ and ‘Desserts’ for your ease. We dubbed the small plates as code for starters and first ordered the Soup of the Day - and I’m not talking some bland, blended veg, this is a hearty stew with tender meat, full of beans and fiery spice. Secondly we chose a childhood favourite of mine, the Ackee and Saltfish Bake, the ultimate sweet and salty dish. A healthy portion wedged between two fried dumplings and perfectly cooked - also this is finally a restaurant who has found the balance between Ackee and Saltfish!
For the main course, I was intrigued by the grilled Lobster, and how they’d get that island twist on it. Served with a deliciously sweet and fresh side salad filled with perfectly ripe avocado, cherry tomatoes, baby spinach and finished with a dash of lime dressing. Distinctively seasoned and immaculately served, this was a great dish and the perfect follow up to a heavy starter. My friend ordered the half chicken from the ‘Real Jerk’ section, marinated for 24 hours in Rudie’s speciality seasoning and cooked over charcoal on a traditional drum. Served with either the hot papaya sauce, medium banana pepper or the mild jerk ketchup. Tender, juicy and unreal - this is jerk chicken done right.
You probably wouldn’t believe it but we did go for dessert as well, but how could we not with options like Banana Creme Brulee and traditional Rum Cake with Rum Caramel Sauce and Ice Cream (with the option of adding a shot of rum) up for grabs. Both tasty, but their savouries were the showstoppers. If you’re more interested in their fantastic range of rum and just want some snacks to keep you steady, they also have some fun bar snacks such as Cassava Crisps, Mini Patties, Saltfish Fritters (i’m coming back for you) and Cassava and Cheese Croquettes.
Rudie’s is a fantastic addition to Dalston’s banging restaurant pool and will not disappoint whether you are new to the taste of the Caribbean or if it’s home.