There’s no Caribbean kitsch at new Jamaican restaurant Rudie’s, where elegant wooden columns subtly mimic the shape of palm trees, a cool collection of vinyl provides the soundtrack and Caribbean classic dishes are given a fresh and modern spin.
Jerk is key to the menu, but jerk lamb is Rudie’s own innovation, alongside the more usual chicken and pork. Fried calamari (not a Jamaican standard) is also given the jerk treatment – dipped in lime sauce it’s fantastically light but warming. Jamaican national dish ackee and saltfish comes as a small plate so you can mix it up with other flavours, and Rudie’s own bammy – grated cassava flatbread – has a healthy Italian-style herb and tomato topping. The one traditional dish that remains unadorned is the richly flavoursome goat curry – the goat meat comes from nearby Ridley Road Market.
Rudie’s rum-soaked cocktail list is inspired by Jamaica’s history: there’s a colonial option with Brandy de Jerez and tea from the Indies, the Selassie I mixes Ethiopian coffee with rum and Tia Maria, and there’s a boozy homage to Dr No which was filmed in Jamaica. Laptopistas looking for a new daytime berth in the borough can make use of free wifi and explore a unique coffee offering, with specialities such as cold brew coffee infused with chili and lime. There’s also a healthy daily juice, such as pineapple with a Scotch bonnet kick.
Rudie’s has big plans for 2016, including a vinyl club, Jamaican Sunday brunch and monthly basement reggae parties – and you’ll soon be able to order a Blue Mountain coffee here. The jerk recipe is a secret, but Rudie’s has provided Eat Hackney with versions of the most popular Jamaican dishes, so you can cook your own jerk chicken, ackee and saltfish and rice n peas. Otherwise, head down to this warm and friendly little restaurant for a spicy lunch or dinner, or make a date at Irie Hour (Mon-Sat 5-7pm & 10.30pm-late) for a two-for-one rum punch or island classic cocktail. Tasty!