#RootReviews, Stories

Rita’s

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Rita’s is one of those trendy joints you’ve been hearing about for a while. It first emerged as a pop up van, specialising in fried chicken. When it moved to Birthday’s in Dalston, I promised I would go, but being a lazy bum, I never did. Jay Rayner even went. For me, Birthday’s isn’t where Rita’s is supposed to be – or where any good food place should be. It’s a loud bar, with uncomfortable tables, and lots of vodkas flying around. Maybe I’m just too old, but I like my food in a restaurant, with ambient lighting, and a nice wine list. When Rita’s opened its own doors on Mare Street, I knew I had inadvertently made the right decision to delay my virgin visit. Unfortunately for me, Rita’s had a name preceding it, so just “popping along” wasn’t so easy. I had the likes of Alexa Chung and Co. ahead of me in the queue. So, the polite manager suggested I pop back another time, which I duly did. Rita’s is exactly the type of place I want to eat. It’s relaxed, bright, with an open kitchen and bar. The service is efficient without being overbearing. My dining buddies, being from a design background, complimented the branding… if that’s your thing. Rita’s is famous for it’s fried chicken. Lightly battered, lightly spiced, served with warm honey and sausage gravy, it doesn’t feel the same as the dirty bucket we’re all used to (and secretly crave). Like its premises, Rita’s chicken is mature, subtle, and a bit sophisticated – as fried chicken goes. However, having ordered close to everything on the menu between four of us, in the end, it wasn’t the chicken that really stood out. From Szechuan Squid, to Soy Ginger Hot Wings and half a crispy roast duck with mooli slaw and hoisin mayo, strangely, it was the unexpected Chinese influence that took us, and our taste buds, by surprise. Oh, that and the deliciously rich Meatloaf. Rita’s lives up to it’s reputation as a cool, local restaurant, although not for the reasons I had expected it to. Definitely worth a visit, but try more than the chicken. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. But also, try the chicken. And not from the Chicken Cottage next door (unless of course, you accidentally fall into the Dolphin and reemerge at stupid o’clock with a hankering for a bucket). Food 4/5 PROXIMITY TO THE DOLPHIN 4/5

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