RITA'S BAR AND DINING.
Rita's Bar and Dining, the new pop up restaurant in Dalston above the new and already successful 'Birthdays' club is a new venture from Vauxhall's Brunswick Cafe's Jackson Boxer. Still in its infancy having opened 2-3 weeks ago, so we decided to head down early to get ahead of the crowds. We arrived at 7.13pm. THIRTEEN MINUTES after opening. And there was a 30 minute wait for a table. I was astounded, but I suppose thats the strength of both East London and the 'pop-up' revolution which is still going strong across the country. So we got a drink and waited patiently keeping one beady eye on the hostess so as not to lose out.
The decor is stripped back and industrial, which is being seen a lot. Its a more disposable, budget-friendly and adaptable style for venues that intend to have many pop ups through their door. This is by no means a bad thing. Personally I like it. Its simple, its doesnt cloud over the reason people have come. Do away with the pomp and ceremony and concentrate on the food. Speaking of which....
The menu for the evening is on a chalk board behind the bar, so pray you can read the writing, or you're at least sat close enough to it. We dived right in and went for 6 dishes in total to share. I think their method is to bring each dish as its cooked which is fine as our table was far too small for the feast we had ordered.
We first went for the Napoli Sausage Roll. Now, if you're like me, you would expect pastry right? No. But I couldn't be disappointed. Out came a flattened pork patty, with roasted red pepper and melted cheese, in a smal white bread roll. This was delicious, so yummy! The juiciness of the red pepper with melted cheese and the meatiness of the pink pork patty was great. We're off to a flyer.
Next up was a Patty Melt - What I will say to anyone who orders this is......Appearances can be deceiving. Out came this teeny, for want of a better word, burnt toasted bread sandwich with an equally charred patty with a dark brown something smeared across the charred bread. IT WAS AMAZING. If a slice of toast is past golden brown, I generally wont eat it (snob) but I gave this a go and was not disappointed. the 'dark brown something' I believe was an onion jam, it was quite tangy and complemented the patty and moistened the toasted bread.
(the pic doesnt show the other side which was black!)
Soy and Ginger Wings - absolutely delicious, but very messy. That is no bad thing. The chicken was moist, the soy made them hot and so very sticky, and the ginger worked well with the soy to enhance the flavour but not overpower it. The small pots of kimchi and tomato and watermelon was a nice refreshing touch also.
The table became very overcrowded, not helped by the dish full of Chilli Mac n Cheese - If there is one thing I love, its a good Mac n Cheese. Its the ultimate comfort food. I was slightly disappointed with this one as it was definitely more mac than cheese. There was a cheese flavour running through it but it was slightly on the dry side and the chilli didnt seem to be present other than a few flecks of colour. I'm not sure f it had been cooked for slightly too long or its not meant to be a heavier sauce based dish but either way, it did let us down slightly.
Next up was the corn on the cob. Quite frankly if you can mess up corn on the cob you shouldn't be in a kitchen! Thankfully they didn't and it was yummy.
And lastly, but my god no means least, came the Fish Taco - Out of all the dishes we had this was by far their standout for me. The whitest, freshest, flakiest fish, on a soft taco, a small helping of salsa verde across the top of the fish, onions, tomato. It was full of flavour, full of filling and again, the best thing we had from the menu.
What really let them down for me was the bar. Apart from the watermelon frozen margarita, which was so yummy and refreshing given I dont drink Tequila, and a small cocktail menu, the main bar offerings were so disappointing. On draught there was Briska Cider and Birra Moretti and in bottles there was Desperados and Heineken. Ther were a couple others but I didn't get chance to glimpse them. A wine menu was offered too, but I dont know I just assumed, maybe wrongly I dont know, that if I was a person who didnt like cocktails and wanted a really good beer to go with a Patty Melt or a fish Taco, a bottle of Heineken just wouldnt even be entertained. And for a mexican beer, neither would Desperados. By all means, this wouldnt stop me from going there again, and I dont know if the bar menu will develop the longer they're there, but it was such a stark contrast to some delicious food to not compliment it in all areas of their drinks.
I dont want to end on bad note so I wont. Rita's is a great experience. Food that looks pretty average but delivers on all levels in terms of taste and flavour. I would definitely go back!
Birthdays, 33-35 Stoke Newington Road, London N16 8BJ