Rita’s Bar & Dining at Birthdays, 33-35 Stoke Newington Road, London N16 8BJ
A rare outing to a region of London that doesn’t begin with ‘S’ bought us to Rita’s Bar & Dining in Dalston. Described on their site as a ‘travelling food and drink collaboration between Real Gold, Jackson Boxer, Gabriel Pryce & Missy Flynn.’ Basically they’ve taken residency upstairs at Birthdays, which is a music venue, for the last ten months or so. Although they’re moving on to an unknown destination soon, again it will be somewhere East.
I really don’t want to use the word hipsters, but these are the people who were hanging around here, leaving us feeling slightly past it and uncool (no change there then!) However we were here for the food which I’d got so fed up with reading about and not trying for ourselves.
is no-frills, a short menu with a sprinkling of specials, short menus are always welcome when we’re dining with others and busy chatting. The dining area was unfortunately next to the open door, creating a chill that meant I had to eat with my coat on. I desperately wanted to ask if they could close the door but would have felt so old that I couldn’t bear to hear myself utter the words.
Frozen hibiscus margarita – In a Slush Puppie style paper cup…
… but only glass will do for a Negroni!
Ade’s Slush Puppie style Frozen hibiscus margarita £6.50 came in a paper cup adorned with the Rita’s logo. My fine Negroni £6.50 luckily came in a glass, you just can’t drink a Negroni out of anything else.
You need strong teeth for these bacon brittle beauties
The Bacon Brittle £3, just had to be ordered, it was delivered in a cute paper bag, who knew peanuts and bacon went together? The addition of rosemary was possibly a step too far though. Ade popped the rest in his pocket to irritate his work colleagues with the following day.
Ade ate the Fried cheese £5 all to himself as he was amongst not one, but two cheeseaphobes. Yep, I am not the only person who can’t stand the stuff. Ade loved it though, a strong yet creamy block of cheese perfectly deep-fried in breadcrumbs. And he said the best bit was not having to share it… Greedy guts!
Top of the class… Sticky chicky
Keith and I shared the Black sauce chicken wings £5. Oh.My.God. This has gone into my list of the best things I’ve eaten in London. A sweet, sticky bold sauce of ginger and soy, simply amazing flavours. I immediately regretting sharing them, luckily Keith is a gent and let me have the bigger ones.
Finger lickin’ good… Am I allowed to use that slogan yet? It wouldn’t be a Rita’s review without a reference to KFC…
Fish, Roll… Good boy, now sit
We all shared the Fried chicken roll £6.50, Fish roll £7 and the Pulled pork Cuban sandwich £8 from the specials menu. The chicken roll was generously fried with a great chunky crumb surrounding tender moist chicken. But for me the slightly creamy sauce let it down, but only as I feel the same about cream as I do cheese, my problem… The fish roll was the equivalent a posh fish finger sandwich made with a battered fillet of haddock with a squid ink aioli.
The Cuban sandwich was a bit too ‘clean’ tasting if that makes any sense whatsoever. The pulled pork wasn’t as smokey as we’d hoped but it was juicy and moist, there’s nothing worse than a dry Cuban! I just wanted to bury my face in those chicken wings all night.
A perfectly rolled Cuban… Tastier (and cheaper) than a El Rey Del Mundo cigar
You can’t beat a bit on the side (especially crispy fried spuds!)
A side of Crispy fried crushed potatoes £5, also on the special list, was amazing. Almost like patatas bravas, only a million times better. I don’t know how many times they fried them, it must have been a lot judging by the thickness of the crunch. Totally gorgeous, the boys saved the last one for me. Think I make it pretty obvious when I find a dish I love, no one would dare come between us.
Berry nice pie…
Only one dessert was on offer – Dark chocolate fondant £4.50 or two for £8. Rita’s desserts come in pie format, the pastry was perfect, if only all chocolate fondants came like this.
As we left the downstairs gig area was filling up, Rita’s
toilets are shared with the music goers, felt like I was 21 again and back at The Forum
in Kentish Town. Oh how I miss my north London days, the ability to go their for a gig and walk home within ten minutes…
Despite feeling old, we will try to re-visit Rita’s
when they find a new home. Such great value food and service with a smile, all we ever ask for. I just hope those wings will still be on the menu or there will be trouble…
Opening hours: Monday to Friday: 6-11
Saturday: 12-4 and 6-11
Sunday: Continuous service from noon to 9pm
Last seating 30 minutes before kitchen close
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Nearest station: London Fields Station (5 min walk)