FOOD REVIEW by Paloma Lacy: Rudie’s Jerk Shack

Restaurant followings are vital, more so now than ever before.

There was much excitement when Rudie’s Jerk Shack announced it was setting up home in Brixton Village, not least from me. Ever-changing operating restrictions in late 2020 played havoc with the opening but this finally happened last month. Despite Lockdown 3 being in full swing, Rudie’s remains open for business – obviously, takeaway only for collection and delivery.

Originally set up in east London some years ago, South London could only dream of it one day gracing its doorstep. I should point out there is already a Rudie’s in Borough Market but it’s more of a grab and go unit, instead of a sit down place.

You see, anyone who knows about good Caribbean food will normally list Rudie’s in their top three. And that’s what you call a following. My family popped along for lunch when dining in was still permitted and boy was it worth the wait.

We were greeted warmly by Michelle and Matin Miah, the husband-and-wife team behind Rudie’s. Arriving a few minutes before noon to find an empty restaurant, it filled within half an hour.

And so it seemed that just walking past the place gave so many a rubber neck – drawn in by the exterior, causing them to about-turn and make their way in to secure a table.

The interior transports the diner to the Caribbean, with its bright and bold colour palate. Michelle’s heritage is Jamaican and Brixton is where many of her family live so in a sense this is her home coming.

Fond memories of visiting her grandmother in Brixton as a child remain fresh and she shares this story with a warm smile that says these were good times. The story goes that the Rudie’s menu was developed following the many visits the Miah’s made to Jamaica, bringing authentic dishes such as it’s famed, Real Jerk.

Meats and fish marinated for 24 hours in a secret blend of herbs and spices, before being grilled and smoked slowly over charcoal in a steel drum. This is jerk as it’s made back home, recipes that stay true to the original, undiluted by the crossing of seas. A bold claim but one that the food easily lives up to, having been lucky enough to visit Jamaica myself on a number of occasions.

Jerk Chicken is served with ‘rude’ sauces and jerk gravy, Jerk Lamb Rump with scotch bonnet jam and Jerk Swordfish with coriander lime sauce. As with all good jerk, the secret is in the marinade and in the marinating process.

Both are taken very seriously and this shows in the end result – sweet, smoky and naturally fiery cuts of meat that could easily be eaten alone but home-made sauces and wicked jerk gravy elevate it further.

Half a chicken will set you back £12.50 and the additional sauces no more than £1. We loved Nuff Scotch and Scotch Bonnet Chilli Jam – we kept our little girl away from these but she thoroughly enjoyed Jerked Ketchup. Fries shaken in jerk rub are served with a side of jerk gravy, make the perfect accompaniment.

I jumped to the main event with mention of jerk. The three starters or dishes from the Lickkle section we shared deserve the spotlight. Traditionally one of my favourite Caribbean dish is saltfish fritters and these were sensational – Stamp & Go – for a truly reasonable £6.50. Beautifully soft fish dipped in a well-seasoned batter and fried.

It scored a 10 in flavour and a zero on the grease-o-meter. This is how deep fried food has to be in my book. I didn’t expect another starter to come along and knock the fritters off their perch but Peppa Swimp did – Middle Quarter-style peppered shrimp were nothing short of outstanding. Boston Wings (sweet) were recommended as suitable for the whole family and these were well received – with meat that fell off the bone and demolished within minutes accordingly.

Rudie’s Jerk Shack, Unit 10, Market Row, Brixton, SW9 8LB
Tel: 020 3971 6424
Email: brixtonvillage
Opening Times: Mon: Closed
Tue – Wed: 5pm – 10pm
Thu – Sat: Noon – 11pm
Sun: Noon – 9pm

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