Review: Rudie's Jerk Shack, Brixton Village

Amanda David heads out to Rudie's Jerk Shack to indulge in a true Jamaican feast.


PLEASE NOTE: During Lockdown Rudie's Jerk Shack will be offering collection and delivery via Deliveroo. They will be offering a limited menu.


This is the third site for Rudie’s Jerk Shack (after Boxpark Shoreditch and Borough Market) with tables outside in the covered market, indoor seating over two floors and a relaxed, island vibe throughout. The Brixton Village location has special significance for Michelle Miah, who runs Rudie’s with husband Matin; she spent much of her childhood in Brixton, shopping and cooking with her Jamaican grandmother.


The menu is designed for convivial sharing. Starting with the ‘Likkle’ section of the menu, Jamaica’s national dish Ackee & Saltfish is wonderful here, with just the right amount of sea-salty tang. For those unfamiliar with it, ackee is technically a fruit from the same family as the lychee; it has a mild, creamy flavour and melting texture when cooked, with the appearance and soft butteriness of gently-scrambled eggs. Traditionally combined with salt cod and spices, it’s a classic done well.


You can’t go to a Jerk restaurant and not order wings; Rudie’s Boston Wings come sweet, spicy, or as a mix of both. I suffer from extreme food FOMO (aka Meal Envy) so we obviously went for a mix and I recommend that you do the same - they were both delicious.


We then had Rudie’s signature Real Jerk chicken – half a chicken, marinated for 24 hours in their own mix of herbs and spices before being grilled and smoked over charcoal in a steel drum. This comes with jerk gravy and your choice of their Rude Sauces, which range from a reasonably well-behaved Jerked Ketchup to a completely depraved Scotch Bonnet Chilli Jam. We went for the Nuff Scotch sauce (Scotch Bonnet’s wild little brother) which hit the cliff-edge of my chilli tolerance but equally felt as if I had armed the back of my throat with weapons-grade defences against any airborne invaders.*


On a more serious note, Rudie’s does feel a very safe place to eat: Track and Trace, hand sanitiser, mandatory masks until you are seated, the option of tables outside in the covered Market Walk and brilliant service from our lovely waitress, who managed to make us feel thoroughly welcome and relaxed despite being masked and keeping a sensitive distance as far as practically possible.


Onwards and upwards to the Yard Classics. Curry goat with rice & peas is one of my favourites and this was an excellent dish, with beautifully tender goat meat and potatoes in plenty of rich, spicy sauce.


Happily, this is cooked bone-in, as it absolutely should be; this is where the real flavour lies and what gives the sauce that fabulous, authentic depth. The classic side of rice and peas (actually red kidney beans but originally made with pigeon peas, hence the name) provides a perfect backdrop with the additional note of coconut. Ripe plantains, sliced and fried in hot oil until caramelised, sweet and comfortingly carby, are a great accompaniment to both the curry and the jerk dishes.


Staying on theme, the Rum Punch (made with beloved Jamaican classic Wray & Nephew rum) is served in cheery enamelled mugs with a chunky wedge of fresh pineapple and is heavyweight strength – great value, even without the 2-for-1 happy hour.


The real eye-opener for me was the single sweet option on the menu, a golden Jamaican rum cake. Baked in a bundt tin and soaked with rum butter sauce, this plain-looking slice was served warm with a drizzle of rum cream. It was the first time I had tried it; the unanimous decision from the table was, and I quote, “That is f*cking delicious”. So delicious that I went straight home, researched some recipes and made my own the next day.


This is a fabulous addition to Rudie’s stable and I will definitely be back – partly because the whole visit was a much-needed slice of sunshine and partly to beg the chef for the rum cake recipe.


* Scientifically fanciful I admit, but personally more appealing than Trump’s bleach and intravenous sunlight.


https://rudieslondon.com/


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Chatting Food Contributor: Amanda David

Freelance food writer, copywriter and blogger, Amanda David is dedicated to sharing news about London’s restaurants, bars, exhibitions and general wonderfulness. It’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it.

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