There are plenty of Caribbean restaurants in London. As someone who has lived in or around Brixton for over 20 years, I’ve tried more than most. But if I was honest, not many of them have been great. Too often the meat is cooked too dry, the seasoning has favoured heat over flavour, and the dishes have been a little bit … sloppy. My favourites are Bickles in Coldharbour Lane (and now Herne Hill) and Atlantic Bakery for Jamaican patties, in Atlantic Road. But they are both takeaways rather than restaurants.
However Rudies, in the hipper than hip hood of Dalston, is very much at the restaurant end of the spectrum, although upmarket café cum brasserie might be a more apt description. If not a little long-winded. The customers are a mix of local hipsters, travelling foodies and families – we spotted children there when we went which was much better than it sounds. The music is reggae pop – ‘Pass the Duchie’ went down a treat. The waiting staff are laidback yet efficient and very charming.
Promising a taste of Jamaica, Rudies offers familiar dishes with a Dalston twist. So patties are served taster size. Ackee and Saltfish comes slider style, while shrimp and calamari are given the heat treatment. We opted for mixed starter of which the patties and calamari were superb, and the Ackee and Saltfish simply delicious. For mains we could not go past the Yo! Man platter of jerk chicken, pork and beef served with slaw. I was dining with a fellow big-eating carnivore, but even we struggled to finish this sharing plate. However to focus on the portion size would be missing the point, as it was the best example of jerk cooking I’ve ever had. The meats were moist, tender and full of jerk seasoning that was flavoursome but not overpowering. I decided to tempt fate with the dessert of Rum Cake with Rum caramel sauce and ice cream. For the record I don’t like alcohol infused desserts, and don’t’ really like caramel. What do I know? The cake was unctuous, while the caramel sweetness perfectly balanced the rum, to deliver an excellent dessert.
So what’s not to like? Well if you are looking for Michelin style Rudies (and probably Dalston) isn’t the place, and it has a casual ambience very much in keeping with the cuisine, but maybe not quite what your average City type expects. But otherwise this is a very good addition to Caribbean dining and the hipster Dalston scene. I was speaking to one of the managers who mentioned that they were already talking about opening a second Rudies, something I would fully endorse.
To paraphrase an old Clash song. If this place continues as it started, Rudie’s can’t fail.
On a rating of * to *****
Wining and dining ****
Serving and pouring ****
Schmoozing and boozing *****
Rudies, 50 Stoke Newington Road N16 7XB
Tel - 020 7249 9930
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org