I didn’t think you could find food or places like this in London. Unlike New York where there are original concepts being launched by people who want to have a go, London is (was, to my mind at least) sadly bereft of such things. A good burger restaurant might open in an out-of-the-way neighborhood and no sooner had I eaten there before 5 more would open. It would become a chain and the food would end up being rubbish. If you ask me ‘the chain’ is one of the abominations of Britain. It means that you can drive for 10 hours and when you get there, the high street will look exactly like the one you left behind.I am not sure what has brought on this flurry of independent activity. The recession perhaps? Plenty of talented young people with ideas and energy twiddling their thumbs. There has been a food truck renaissance for example (Timeout article here or The Guardian here). Two years ago when I left London, restaurants were flying the flag for British food using local ingredients. The local ingredients have stuck but there seems to be a seismic shift towards American food. First we got ‘sliders‘ in places like Spuntino or Bar Boulud. Pulled pork seems to be everywhere and you owe it to your stomach (although not your waist line) to try it at Pitt Cue. In fact, just the other day I was in Waitrose looking through their recipe cards and there was one from Heston for pulled pork.At Rita’s, it’s tacos. Fish (£5) – pretty good or ox heart (£5) – stupendous. With ox heart you get bundles of flavour without fat or gristle. The pickled onions and diced tomatoes created enough of a puddle on the plate that I wanted to use my finger to squeegee it all up. There is also a chicken sandwich (£6.50). It is served in a brown paper bag which instead of feeling gimmicky, contributes to the anticipation as you rip your way through the paper and fried chicken smell wafts up and tickles your nose.That chicken sandwich. We had juicy thigh meat in just enough crispy coating. The coating was so good that I picked up shards off the plate, table or floor if they fell. A white bun unlike any I’ve eaten in London before, some romaine lettuce and pink sauce. Yummy, lick your finger good. Missy Flynn (who describes herself as “mama @RitasDining on twitter and who was photographed here in The Guardian as one of the doyen’s of tattooed front of house staff) presides over the dining room scintillating with youth and energy like a single firefly amongst other dull winged insects.
The crowd is young and good-looking, shod in espadrilles, flip-flops, slip-on Vans or All Stars. That I was wearing square-toed, patent leather ballerinas from Hobbs called ‘Fifi‘ seemed to have no bearing on the service we got.
Rita’s Bar and Dining
33-35 Stoke Newington Rd
London N16 8BJ
Rita’s on Facebook
Rita’s is described as a “travelling food and drink collaboration” on Facebook so I am not sure how long it will be there. I urge you to go although be warned there are serious wait times during peak hours.