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Contemporary Jamaican dishes and a drinks list emphasising rum and rum punches.
What’s a person gotta do to get some good jerk chicken around here? Well, you could wait patiently for Annual Jerk Chicken Weekend – better known as Notting Hill Carnival – where you take a gamble on joining the right queue in the hope that, 40-odd minutes later, you’ll be chomping on a glorious piece of spicy barbecue that’ll quite simply blow your mind. Or you can trust that a restaurant that’s gone so far as to make jerk chicken its pièce de résistance can’t possibly get it wrong. Which is why Rudie’s has some serious explaining to do.
On the surface, this funky Dalston newcomer is everything fans of Jamaican cooking could ever want. Their menu is chock-full of creative nods to dishes like ackee and saltfish, patties and curry mutton, which are all given a fancy makeover to make it clear they’re not one of those shabby spots around town.
But for all the interesting entreés and sides – kale-aloo, anyone? – the half-jerk chicken at dinnertime, though full-flavoured, was unforgivably dry. Like, my fork-and-knife-can’t-hack-this dry. And the tiny dollop of tangy sweet sauce it comes with just isn’t enough revive it. Considering Rudie’s has one of those proper oil-drum barbecue grills in its open-plan kitchen – the pungent aroma of jerk spices filling your nostrils every now and again – you’re set up to expect some seriously good grub. But this chicken is a fairly pricey £13.50, and no amount of fluffy rice and peas, excellent carroty kale or killer drinks can excuse the fact that this place has missed the mark on the main attraction (although our rum-falavoured Jamaica Nice cocktail was really, really good).
Still, Rudie’s is only four months old, and young enough to make its slip-ups forgiveable. And on our Saturday night visit, they were playing to a full house, so they must be doing something right.
50 Stoke Newington Rd
|Transport:||Dalston Kingsland Overground|
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