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16 March 2018


despite having never been to the caribbean, west indian food is some of my favourite of all the foods. the spices, the heartiness, the heat of the flavours - all just deeeelicious. but, since going vegantarian (new word), i've been too scared to have it, because.. well, because curried goat and jerk chicken are some of the dishes i have 100% missed since the start of the year; when i heard that rudie's - london's home of the real jerk experience - had opened down the road at shoreditch high street, i was torn. on one hand, gimmmmme the jerk. on the other hand, how will i cope not eating my favourite west indian foods? worth the try, i grabbed my half-jamaican pal charlie (cos if anyone knows good jerk, it's her) and we went along one rainy evening to see what i had been missing out on for the last few months...

the box park pop-up has a more limited menu than the main restaurants, but still something for everyone. but mainly carnivores. there is one vegan box, and two vegetarian options, a few seafood choices, and a whooooole lotta meat options. i couldn't bring myself to order the vegan box - it was full of things i'd never tried - namely calalloo and ackee (and charlie wasn't sure i'd like either of them anyway), so i opted for the vegetarian option: the jerk halloumi burger (£7.50) with a side of rice and peas (£4) and sweet potato fries (£4.50). and let me tell you this: i ate that burger in about eighteen seconds flat. like, before charlie had even unwrapped her curried goat roti wrap (£6.50)(to be fair, it took her the entire night to eat that wrap, though), it was that damn delicious. the salty cheese and the mild jerk flavours, mixed with the fresh, crunchy salad and the tangy added pickles. it was the best vegetarian burger i've ever had. fact.

the sides were schmaverage. i've had better sweet potato fries, and i object to £4.50 sides at the best of times, but honestly, i wasn't there for fries. the rice and peas were fairly bland too, and i only actually ate a few mouthfuls when i was trying to put out the fire in my mouth from the "peppered prawns" (£7.50) that were essentially the highlight of the evening. according to charlie, they were the closest to her dad's home cooking, and the fire of the foods she's eaten herself in jamaica. i am here to tell you that they was hawwwwwwt, girl! my mouth was on fire, but i was having it. the serving was big, the prawns were shelled (though their faces were still on, weirdly), and the flavour was insane. so, i was willing to overlook the schmaverage sides because they were good to soak up the fire from inside my mouth when i needed them to.

bonus points for the sweet rum punch (£6.50 per plastic cup, though) and cans of ting and ginger beer, adding some authenticity to the drinks game (as well as red stripe, hollaaaah), and i needed a couple of cans to help put that fire out, seriously. i actually forgot to ask charlie about her roti wrap, but by all accounts, it wasn't quite the "real jerk" experience she was hoping for. maybe because of the eastern european cook making the food? maybe because it's the centre of london, and winter? maybe because no food is quite as good as where it originated? i don't know. i was pretty happy with my choices, but agree it wasn't really as jerky as i was expecting - but i was pleased to see jerk halloumi on the menu! for what it's worth, i will definitely be back for that burger - it's just something a little different to what i've seen elsewhere, so worth the trip for that alone. i swear!

*we were guests of rudie's, but all words (and cravings) are my own.

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