It was with some excitement, we visited Rudie’s in Stoke Newington to experience some authentic modern Jamaican cuisine. Quite a few restaurants offer Caribbean cuisine but few specifically focus on the Jamaican version.
The decor is more modern Dalston than offering stereotypical Jamaican. The standout pieces are the wooden light stands that resembled tree trunks. The designer who came up with that idea should be winning innovation awards if he or she hasn’t won some already.
There are numerous exotic dishes crying out to be tried here and all at affordable prices. For the starters, we had diced up Portobello mushrooms with jerk seasoned gratin. It was a thoughtful decision to chop up the mushrooms so that the jerk flavours infused readily into the dish to give it a fiery kick. Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica and ackee and saltfish is one of the most traditional Jamaican dishes you will every come across. Here it is served as moneybags, which has a golden, crispy exterior and served with a refreshing pickled lime dressing.
It was a tour of the classics for the main courses. We had the vegetarian platter which once again had ackee, this time sautéed, but also other popular vegetables like calaloo, which is a leaf vegetable, very similar to amaranth. The beautifully caramelised sweet plaintain was also another winner with the diners on the night.
You can also have a healthy dose of mango and avocado as a side dish, especially if you are ordering a meaty dish like their jerk chicken which doesn’t come with any vegetables. Their signature jerk chicken is one of those must order dishes; it has been marinated with love and attention for over 24 hours in their secret blend of herbs and spices. The cooking process then involves charcoal and wood smoke on traditional steel drums. Even with the slight hint of charring and blackened parts, the meat still tastes absolutely tender and a homemade jerk sauce where you can choose the degree of spiciness.
The great thing about their menu is you can create your own surf and turf menu by ordering a quarter of a jerk chicken along with half a lobster dish. Whether you order half or a whole, the crusteceans they use aren’t massive in size, but perhaps because of this, their meat remains perfectly succulent and sweet tasting and goes particularly well with their avocado salsa.
Although I haven’t visited many Jamaican restaurants in London, I would hazard a guess that Rudie’s is one of the best in London.