Rudie's, Dalston: restaurant review
The Jamaican restaurant manages to be the best of both worlds, serving up modern versions of classic food and drink from the island that still feel totally authentic
What's the draw
In the borough of Hackney, just like Notting Hill or Brixton, a vibrant Afro-Caribbean population and a wealth of Jamaican food stops – not to mention concerns of gentrification from its residents – means a pale imitation won't be well received. The solution? If you're going to open a modern Jamaican restaurant, do it well, do it authentically, and do it affordably. That's exactly what Rudie's has done, using techniques studiously gleaned from travels around Jamaica and the Caribbean, and serving up jerk chicken and other Jamaican classics to match the best of them.
What to drink
A tie-in with Jamaica's best-loved rum distiller Appleton means a big list of rum cocktails, and there are smaller-batch Caribbean rums on the menu here, too. There are classic cocktails given the rum treatment, too, like the Ole Fashioned, made with Appleton Reserve and flavoured with pimento pepper, or the AD 1494 Negroni, which replaces gin with gently sweet, grassy and boozy Wray & Nephew Overproof. If you're looking for something to take a bite out of the heat of your jerk chicken, there are some East London beers, along with the obligatory Red Stripe. Obviously.
What to eat
Food here feels modern, with high-quality ingredients, with some modern touches, but fusion food it ain't. Order a few main dishes and a couple of sides to share – we loved the gentle slick of slowly cooked ackee and saltfish (Jamaica's national dish), which had a deliciously saline quality and almost scrambled-egg-like texture. Grilled swordfish is a particular highlight, too, served sliced alongside an aromatic, Caribbean-spiced chimichurri and piquanté peppers. Jerk, though, reigns supreme at Rudie's – snow-white bone-in chicken encased in hot, sweet, charred skin, with a slick of piquant dipping sauce, cooked in a drum in the kitchen – a dish that's delivered, like most on the menu, with a firm appreciation of where it comes from.
Cocktails from £7; small plates from £3. 50 Stoke Newington Road, N16 7XB; rudieslondon.com