Having finally visited Brunswick House Cafe for the first time last Saturday, I followed this up with a trip to Jackson Boxer’s brand new joint Rita’s Dining last Thursday for their pre-opening trial run. I made the trek (two hours each way is quite the trek) to Stoke Newington High Street, a short stroll from Ruby’s, which I *will* get to soon and would make a great tandem evening with this, in driving rain to meet a small group of friends at the Birthday’s location. Rita’s has the requisite stripped back industrial feel going on; naked lights, slightly skanky drink sloshed floor, candles in jam jars, beards aplenty…Oh, and a succinct, thoroughly irresistible menu and excitement charged, buzzing atmosphere. I can’t often resist a novelty drink and although not a fan of tequila, I do have a sweet tooth, the hibiscus margherita slushy is indeed that. If you don’t, they have some pretty punchy Tommy’s margherita’s, and my favourite Negroni’s available, we moved onto red wine for the rest of the evening.
Not officially open till the following evening, not quite everything is available, and I’m already planning a return visit to try the BBQ bunny bun. We order a selection of morsels from the, frankly brilliant, menu and sup wine waiting for their arrival. Ginger and soy hot wings are satsifyingly sticky and fish tacos are beyond attractive, I didn’t taste these but they definitely score on looks. A friend rates his shrimp roll as the star but I’m convinced my smoked pork & duck heart baked beans is the winner (who wants their dinner eyeballing them anyway?); sweet and smokey beans engorged with shredded pork and little nuggets of tender duck hearts, I pass it round for tasting but make sure it’s retuned to me.
The patty melt is a relatively new one on me; introduced only recently by Joel, his version at Nicks BBQ pipped this one to the post, but this is still a wonderous thing and certainly the only one of it’s kind I’ve seen so far in London. A patty melt is basically a toasted burger cheese sandwich; here, rye bread, studded with fragrant caraway seeds is stuffed with plenty of dirty cheese and sauce, beef patty and fried/toasted. My main complaint here derives from my sarnie OCD tendencies; fillings don’t reach quite to edges in a way that irks me.
Aaah tequila, yes there’s lots of tequila fuelling this heaving, frenetic room, and it’s possibly an unnessary completion to the evening, but ends it rather well all the same. We appear to have actually eaten Rita’s out of food as they’re unable to fulfil our second round order. No worries, they’ve had an incredible turnout for what was only supposed to be a trial run, and fully lived up to their venues name, providing a veritable Birthday party of an evening.
Yes, inevitably Rita’s is rammed with enough hipsters with their red trousers, headwear and ironic dressing to make you (me) feel old, but it’s worth it for that energetic atmosphere and stunning, alcohol mopping snacky menu. Currently open for dinner from 7pm Tuesday to Saturday, with brunches and lunches to follow shortly.